Sunday, March 29, 2015

Frida and Diego


Self-portrait by Frida Kahlo,
shown in the exhibit.
This morning's activity was to see the Diego Rivera-Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts. We're already great admirers of the Rivera murals, which he painted at the DIA in 1932-33. Edsel Ford paid him a considerable sum of money to paint the Garden Court of the museum. During his stay in the US, Rivera was accompanied by his wife, Frida Kahlo. Evidently, he considered these murals to be one of his finest works, if not the very best.

The special exhibit features quite a few paintings by both Rivera and Kalho, as well as film clips showing the two of them at the museum as he painted. Best of all were full-scale drawings and other preliminary works that he used in planning and executing the murals. Unfortunately no photography was permitted inside the exhibit.

From the Diego Rivera Murals

The theme of the Diego Rivera murals in the Garden Court of the DIA is Detroit Industry, with an emphasis on the workers. I find Rivera's skill and vision to be remarkable and penetrating, and the new visual information about how he worked only makes me admire him more.

Kalho was just beginning to find herself as a painter during this time, and in fact she completed only one painting while he worked. She also suffered the loss of a pregnancy, after which she was treated at Henry Ford Hospital. The exhibit included some paintings in which she dealt with that experience. These too were very interesting. This event clearly influenced Rivera, and the exhibit links to this experience the mysterious image of a human embryo embedded in plant roots, one of the dramatic images of the murals.

Baby in a plant bulb, Diego Rivera mural, DIA
Frida Kahlo, Henry Ford Hospital, 1932
Other than images symbolizing agriculture and peasant labor, Rivera's murals had no food themes. I was therefore surprised to find a large table of food items from Mexico in the gift shop at the exit from the exhibit. While I'm used to having gift shops attached to art shows, this one seemed particularly unrelated to the subject matter of the exhibit. True, there were many Frida Kahlo souvenirs, but most of the items for sale were nothing but Mexican curio shop items.

Mexican food items in the gift shop
Frida Kahlo shopping bag.
Frida Kahlo curio.

5 comments:

Liz Berg said...

Looks like the exhibit is worth the trip!!

Marjie said...

Did you see the movie about Frida a couple of years back? I'm not a great fan of her work, but her life is interesting. Diego's murals are very detailed and intricate, so this must have been a nice visit (other than the odd gift shop).

Mae Travels said...

I haven't seen any of the movies about Kahlo and Rivera, but maybe I'll get around to it.

Vagabonde said...

I enjoyed reading and looking at the pictures of Diego Rivera and Frieda Kahlo in your post as I know little about their art. I read a short bio of Frieda – she had quite a life.

Jeanie said...

We were in Detroit Sunday for the DSO concert. Our original plan had been to go Saturday, see the Kahlo (or early Sunday) and we would be with friends we were meeting in Detroit. Then it all went crazy (more from their end than ours but we were still in upheaval because of it) and we barely made it to the (stunning) concert. I'm hoping to get to this one before it goes. But then I've been hoping to get to three movies in town before they go too -- and they always seem to go before I get there.