Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting prepared to open to the public at the Art Gallery of Ontario. This extraordinary exhibition, curated by OCAD U Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences Professor and cultural historian Dot Tuer, offers visitors a unique way to contemplate the artists' lives, separately and together.
"As one of the legendary artist couples of the 20th century, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo have each achieved major stature in the history of painting - yet the distinctiveness of their work has meant that they are rarely paired together in an exhibition," said Tuer. "By bringing the work together, Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting reveals the affinities - and differences - that shaped their creative visions."
The exhibition features more than 80 works on paper and paintings by Kahlo and Rivera and more than 60 photographs of the couple, whose shared passion for each other and Mexico's revolutionary culture during the 1920s and 1930s have made them Mexico's most famous artists.
"This is the first presentation of their works together in Canada, which offers a different kind of experience," said Matthew Teitelbaum, AGO director and CEO. "The exhibition tells a compelling and timeless story, providing insight into their tumultuous relationship, their political beliefs and their shared passion for Mexico."
Assembled from three distinguished Mexican private collections on Mexican art, the Museo Dolores Olmedo, Colección Gelman, and Galería Arvil, the exhibition provides the opportunity to view almost one quarter of Kahlo's entire body of work and a range of Rivera's painting styles from his early cubist period and studies for his Mexican murals to his portraits and later landscapes. Photographs by Nickolas Muray, Lola Alvarez Bravo, Bernard Silberstein and others help tell the story of one of the most prolific and politically charged couples of the 20th century.
During their lifetime together as a married couple, Rivera achieved international prominence as a muralist, while Kahlo's intimate paintings were embraced by the Surrealist movement and the Mexican art world but not well known in the broader context of art and modernism. Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting offers a new perspective on their artistic significance for the 21st century: one that encompasses how their paintings reflect both the dramatic story of their lives together and their artistic commitment to the transformative political and cultural values of post-revolutionary Mexico.
In an interview with arts reporter James Adams of The Globe and Mail, Tuer explained that, "The reason I wanted to shape it as a story is also to introduce visitors who either know nothing about Frida Kahlo or just know about her unibrow to a sense of the complexity and the multifaceted relationship she and Rivera both had to Mexico, to revolutionary politics. You can't think of Frida without Diego; they're completely intertwined and they're more intertwined artistically than people imagine."
Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting opened to the public on October 20 and continues until January 20.
OCAD U's Faculty of Art presents a Conversation in Curating series of talks, including one with Dr. Tuer titled “Transcultural Encounters of the Curatorial Kind” on Tuesday, November 20, at 7 p.m. in the Auditorium. All are welcome for this free event.
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