February 26 – May 31, 2015
Work by two of the most famous 20th century artists, Frida Kahlo (1907–1954) and Diego Rivera (1886–1957), will be featured in a group exhibition of 75 works at NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale. Alongside their revolutionary work will be paintings, sculptures and works on paper by innovative and influential Mexican artists Lenora Carrington (1917-2011), Gerhard Gerzso (1915-2000), José Clemente Orozco (1883-1949), Wolfgang Paalen (1905-1959), Alfredo Martínez Ramos (1917-1946), David Siquieros (1896-1974), Rufino Tamayo (1889-1991), and Remedios Varo (1908-1963).
Many of Kahlo’s and Rivera’s most famous works – including Kahlo’s Diego on my Mind (Self-Portrait as a Tehuana), 1943; Autorretrato con Monos (Self Portrait with Monkeys), 1943; and Rivera’s Autorretrato (Self-Portrait), 1930, and Retratro de Natasha Gelman (Portrait of Natasha Gelman), 1943 – will highlight Mexico’s rich artistic history and the passion utilized by artists to portray social and political movements during the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) and throughout the following three decades.
Demonstrating a broad range of expression and political force, many of the featured artists developed and defined Mexican modernism, which has shaped Mexico’s cultural heritage.
Accompanying these works are photographs by internationally known American and Mexican photographers such as Leo Matiz (1917-1978), Martin Munkácsi (1896-1963) and Nickolas Muray (1892-1965). These photographers captured the enthralling and vastly different personalities of Kahlo and Rivera, whose passion for each other, the arts and political convictions bound them in a famously tumultuous relationship.
The Gelman Collection also includes major works from Rivera including his provocative Portrait of Natasha Gelman, 1943. In this work, the seductive art collector stares out of the canvas from a chaise of grey-green cushions, surrounded by an abundance of white calla lilies. He presents the lily again in his sensual Calla Lily Vendor, 1943, in which floral forms contrast with three faceless figures who kneel immobilized in reverence to these lively, organic forms. Rivera conveys the same organic dynamism in his Landscape with Cacti, 1931. Cactus plants become figurative with repeating vertical and curving shapes.
Stanley and Pearl Goodman began collecting Mexican and Latin American art in 1991. Their nuanced collection represents the richness and breadth of modern art produced in Mexico not only by Kahlo, Rivera and their contemporaries, but also in the work of artists who developed independently and made the daily of lives of Mexico’s people the subject of their work.
The Goodmans’ collection includes Surrealistic paintings by Kahlo and other artists, including Leonora Carrington, Gunther Gerzso, and Wolfgang Paalen, with depictions of fantasy, dreams, and the subconscious. Carrington’s Artes 110, 1942, presents ambiguous narratives about the power of female creativity, birth and rebirth in interludes of illusionistic imagery. The abstract forms of Paalen’s Paysage totémique, 1937, visualize aspects of his fantastical childhood dreams, such as living in castles in the midst of magical forests.
Works by David Siqueiros, a political, radical-minded Mexican social realist painter, and adversary of Rivera, best known for his large frescoed murals, are also included in the collection. The first painting purchased by the Goodmans was his gouache on paper, Flight, 1964, depicting a woman holding a child wrapped in a shawl. Siqueiros juxtaposes primary colors and applies them gesturally to convey the energy and vitality of figures that struggle with forces beyond their control.
Also in the collection are works by Alfredo Martínez Ramos, known as the “Father of Mexican Modernism.” Para-surrealist painter Remedios Varo’s Zapatista, 1931, depicts a compellingly resolute, seated figure whose direct stare conveys the sadness and resignation at the end of the Mexican Revolution. Ramos’ Minotaurus, 1959, displays the mythological creature born of the union between a bull and the queen of Crete. Rather than being killed, the offspring of this union was condemned to live forever in an inescapable labyrinth, but in Ramos’ painting, he holds a key, suggesting the discovery of a way out.
Presented by AutoNation, the exhibition is organized by NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale in association with The Vergel Foundation. It brings together works from the world-renowned Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection and major works by Mexican modern artists collected by Stanley and Pearl Goodman of Fort Lauderdale, who have recently donated their collection of more than 75 works by modern Latin American artists to NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale. The exhibition also inaugurates NSU Art Museum’s Stanley and Pearl Goodman Center for the Study of Latin American Art, the only resource of its kind for scholars in the region.
The 144-page illustrated book Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and Mexican Modern Art, published by Skira Rizzoli, accompanies the exhibition. It features essays by art historian and curator Helga Prignitz-Poda and foreword by NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale Director and Chief Curator Bonnie Clearwater.
The exhibition is presented by AutoNation. Additional support provided by the Josephine S. Leiser Foundation Inc., Auberge Beach Residences & Spa Fort Lauderdale, Vontobel Swiss Wealth Advisors AG, National Council for Culture and Arts, and National Institute of Fine Arts. Media partners: WSVN-TV, Selecta and Miami Herald Media Company.
Image: Frida Kahlo. Autorretrato con collar (Self-Portrait with Necklace), 1933, oil on metal, and Retrato de Diego Rivera (Portrait of Diego Rivera), 1937, oil on masonite. The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of 20th Century Mexican Art, courtesy of the Vergel Foundation and the Tarpon Trust. © 2015 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.