Turbulence and Symbolism in Modern Mexican Art


Frida Kahlo, Diego on my mind (Self-portrait as Tehuana), 1943.


Applaud the Musée des beaux-arts du Québec, in Quebec City, for presenting exhibitions that encompass an entire age and articulate a moment in art through a fullness of representation and styles. On display now is Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernism: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, which features the most expansive private collections of 20th-century Mexican art in the world.

Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) was a feminist, socialist, and non-conformist who used self-portraits to create an image of herself—a character that defied the norms of European modernism. Diego Rivera (1886-1957) was regarded as a major figure in Mexican muralism, with a focus on the people of Mexico and the working class.

Kahlo and Rivera married in 1929 and had a relationship as vibrant and fraught as some of their artist representations. Infidelity caused the artists to divorce—an event monumentalized in Kahlo’s cutting of her hair—only to reconcile a year later and remarry.  The exhibition uses this romantic and artistic tension to structure the masterpieces within the collections.


Martin Munkácsi, Frida and Diego, 1934.


Famous works such as Kahlo’s Self Portrait with Braid (1940) and Diego on My Mind (1943) are interpolated amongst Rivera’s Flower Vendor (1943) and Portrait of Natasha Gelman (1943). Nature symbolism and various postures reveal the shared lives of the two artists and the concerns of their times. Flowers play a significant role in framing the emotional weight of their work and the work of decolonizing the Mexican imagery.

Discover over 150 works, which include 20 paintings by other Mexican artists such as David Alfaro Siqueiros, Carlos Orozco Romero, and María Izquierdo, as well as 85 photographs by Mexican photographers of the era, including Manuel and Lola Álvarez Bravo, two of foremost Latin American photographers of the 20th century.

Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernism: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection gives the viewer the rare opportunity of seeing this collection in one space, providing insight into the works of these renowned artists, where life imitates art and art is life.


Diego Rivera, Portrait of Natasha Zakólkowa Gelman, 1943.


Diego Rivera, Landscape with Cacti, 1931.


Frida Kahlo, The Bride Frightened at Seeing Life Opened, 1943.

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