Frida Kahlo has been dubbed “Queen of the Selfies” by art lovers for her dozens of self-portraits. But the Mexican-born painter — hailed as a hero for artists, Hispanics, feminists and the LGBTQ+ community — is so much more than the first selfie superstar. Her life and art have been commemorated in museums, movies and monuments — she was the first Hispanic woman to be featured on a U.S. postage stamp.
This fall, Kahlo’s legacy continues with a showcase of more than 20 of her most renowned works at the Denver Art Museum. Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection (open through Jan. 24, 2021), explores the rise of Mexican modernism through the paintings and drawings of Kahlo, as well as art by her former husband, famed muralist and painter Diego Rivera, and other Hispanic artists.
The touring exhibition illuminates the role artists played in the emergence of a new national identity after the Mexican Revolution, which ended 100 years ago this May. It also includes a special focus on the era’s trailblazing female artists, such as photographer Lola Alvarez Bravo and painter María Izquierdo.
The exhibition includes more than 150 pieces, most of which belong to the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Additional works are from the Collection of John and Sandy Fox and the Denver Art Museum's own extensive collections.
Some highlights of the exhibition include:
Seven of Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits, including her 1943 "Self-Portrait with Monkeys" and her 1943 painting "Diego on my Mind." The two artists had a tumultuous relationship: they married in 1929, divorced in 1939, and subsequently remarried in 1940.
Depictions of Diego Rivera’s fresco murals, which blended traditional and modern painting techniques and incorporated social and political messages aimed at reunifying the country after the Mexican Revolution. Also on display: Rivera’s iconic 1943 painting "Calla Lilly Vendor."
María Izquierdo’s 1946 painting "Naturaleza viva," a still life featuring a variety of fruits, vegetables and a conch shell, symbolizing Mexico’s beauty and abundance.
Carlos Mérida’s 1959 modernist painting "Festival of the Birds," which uses figurative, surreal and geometric styles to depict a flock of birds.
“I hope this exhibition increases the understanding and appreciation of artists such as Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and the iconic Mexican modernist artists of the 20th century,” says Rebecca Hart, the Vicki and Kent Logan Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Denver Art Museum, and the exhibition’s local curator.
“It’s also my hope that visitors are able to draw connections with their personal experiences and the world around them through the artworks and narratives on display.”
Credits: Frida Kahlo, "Self-Portrait with Monkeys," 1943. Oil on canvas; 32 x 24.8 in. (81.5 x 63 cm). The Vergel Foundation. © 2019 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Gerardo Suter. Diego Rivera, "Calla Lilly Vendor," 1943. Oil on Masonite; 59.1 x 47.2 in. (150 x 120 cm). The Vergel Foundation and MondoMostre in collaboration with the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura (INBAL). © 2020 Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F./ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Gerardo Suter
Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection is organized by the Vergel Foundation and MondoMostre in collaboration with the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura (INBAL). The Denver Art Museum exhibition is generously supported by John and Sandra Fox, the Birnbaum Social Discourse Project, and Craig Ponzio. Additional funding is provided by the Aegon Transamerica Foundation, Lisë Gander and Andy Main, Lauren and Geoff Smart, Xcel Energy, the Kristin and Charles Lohmiller Exhibitions Fund, the Fine Arts Foundation, the donors to the Annual Fund Leadership Campaign, and the residents who support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD). Promotional support is provided by 5280 Magazine and CBS4.