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Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection

Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA Oct 17-Jan 5

Carlos Merida – Frida Kahlo
Carlos Merida, Frida Kahlo (1941), oil on canvas [Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA, Oct 17-Jan 5]

This Fall the Seattle Art Museum opens an exhibition of what is perhaps one of the most significant collections of 20th Century Mexican artwork. Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection includes work dating from 1910-1960s from approximately twenty Mexican artists. Many of whom are publicly recognized, and many who have gone unnoticed until now. Aside from Kahlo and Rivera, the exhibit will include works by David Alfaro Siqueiros, Jose Clemente Orozco, Maria Izquierdo, Gunther Gerzso, Carlos Merida, Jesus Reyes Ferreira, and Rufino Tamayo.

Over one hundred pieces, including photographs, paintings, and works on paper represents a range of artistic developments. From early experiments with European Cubism and Surrealism, post-revolutionary efforts to develop an indigenous Mexican aesthetic, and a multitude of styles that came to be after WWII. The exhibit is divided into three major categories. Portraiture is the first, including portraits of the Gelmans, as well as portraits of individual artists, including Kahlo’s Self Portrait with Monkeys (1943) and Siqueiro’s Head of a Woman (1939.) Second are the studio paintings by the Mexican Muralists whose work was recognized in Mexico and America for their political content. Third, are the abstract works such as Carlos Merida’s piece Festival of the Birds (1959). He painted local themes in bold patterns of red, yellow and black in a Cubist-like style. Inspite of the obvious influence of European Cubism, Merida’s piece has a genuinely Mexican feel.

Films, lectures, and performances detailing many of the artists’ works as well as a Mexican family fiesta will take place at the Museum, celebrating Mexican and Latin American cultural traditions. A bilingual catalogue will also accompany this exhibit.

This private collection was created by the Gelman’s who met in Mexico city in the 1940s. Both from Eastern Europe, the war prevented them from returning to their native countries. They became Mexican citizens and knew many of the artists whose work they collected.

© Allyn Cantor


 Wed, Sep 4, 2002