Skip to main content

Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism (Story)

Frida Kahlo, Diego on my Mind, 1943, oil on Masonite, 29 7/8 x 24 in.

The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of 20th Century Mexican Art, The Vergel Foundation, Conaculta/INBA, © 2018 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

October 26, 2019 – January 19, 2020

East Building, Meymandi Exhibition Gallery

Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection presents the paintings of two icons of the 20th century. Few artists have captured the public’s imagination with the force of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907–54) and her husband, the Mexican painter and muralist Diego Rivera (1886–1957). The myths that surrounded them in their lifetime arose not only from their significant bodies of work, but also from their friendships (and conflicts) with leading political figures and their passionate, tempestuous personal relationships.

Kahlo and Rivera’s works are varied in scope and inspiration: she is best-known for her self-portraits, while he worked as a large-scale muralist in Mexico and the United States. Kahlo’s work is deeply personal, often depicting her own dreams, painful personal experiences, and affinity with Mexican culture, while Rivera’s pursues larger looks at history and cultural revolution. Both artists forged the way for Mexican art as a significant element of the 20th century and beyond.

Similarly important is the legacy of two of Kahlo and Rivera’s patrons, Jacques and Natasha Gelman. The Gelmans became Mexican citizens in 1942 and began amassing Mexican art, sustaining a growing collection of Mexican modernists, like Kahlo and Rivera (with whom they became close friends), as well as their compatriots Rufino Tamayo, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and others. Their unparalleled collection shows the richness of Mexican art through painting, drawing, photography, and film.

Teachers can learn about and request exhibition related school tours here.

Natasha Gelman Collection is organized by the Vergel Foundation and MondoMostre in collaboration with the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura (INBAL). The exhibition is made possible, in part, by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources; the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Inc.; and the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment for Educational Exhibitions. Research for this exhibition was made possible by Ann and Jim Goodnight/The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fund for Curatorial and Conservation Research and Travel.