The NCMA opened their latest exhibit, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, with presenting sponsor Bank of America. It’s an exhibit that I was so excited and honored to preview having developed a love for their work and romance in my early 20’s.

Few artists have captured the public’s imagination with the force of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and her husband, the Mexican painter and muralist Diego Rivera. The myths that surrounded them arose not only from their significant bodies of work, but also from their friendships (and conflicts) with leading political figures and their passionate personal relationships.

Sunflowers by Diego Rivera

“Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection will emphasize a remarkable chapter in art history that is at once Mexican and global,” said Museum Director Valerie Hillings.

“Diego Rivera’s personality, politics, and monumental, social realist murals made him a celebrity during his lifetime. While he once overshadowed his equally talented wife, Frida Kahlo’s fame has far outstripped her husband’s in the years since her death.”

Diego On My Mind by Frida Kahlo

Kahlo is best known for her self-portraits, while Rivera worked as a large-scale muralist in Mexico and the United States. Kahlo’s work is deeply personal, often depicting her own dreams, painful personal experiences, and affinity with Mexican culture. Rivera’s pursues larger looks at history and cultural revolution. Both artists forged the way for Mexican art as a significant element of the 20th century and beyond.

Similarly important is the legacy of two of Kahlo and Rivera’s patrons, Jacques and Natasha Gelman. The Gelmans fell in love and were married in 1941 and became Mexican citizens shortly thereafter. In 1943 they determined that the best way to get acquainted with their newly adopted home was to dig into the cultural society around them and they began collecting Mexican art, including works by Kahlo and Rivera (with whom they became close friends).

Over their lifetime, they established one of the best collections of Mexican Modernist art in the entire world. This exhibit is a testament to that fact. They collected art only they enjoyed, from people they liked and admired and that is part of what makes this exhibit truly unique.

Frida and Diego by Martin Munkacsi

Upcoming Events:

Frida movie screening Friday, October 25, 8 pm
Directed by Julie Taymor. Salma Hayek, Alfred Molina, Geoffrey Rush. (123 min.) R (2002)
Director Julie Taymor (Broadway’s The Lion King) uses magical realism to suggest the imaginative universe of one of art history’s few iconic women.

Coffee with a Curator: Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism Thursday, November 7, 10:30 am–noon
Curator Jennifer Dasal offers an in-depth look at the themes and content of the exhibition, focusing on the relationships between Kahlo and Rivera, their collectors, and the other artists in their circle. Exhibition ticketed separately.

Lecture: Frida Kahlo’s Art and the Construction of Identities Thursday, November 14, 7–8:30 pm
Kahlo expert Gannit Ankori of Brandeis University cuts through the “Fridamania” to explore her life and legacy.

Dining after Dark: Frida and Diego, Love and Loss
Friday, November 22, 6:30–9 pm
Curator Jennifer Dasal offers a look at the biography of Frida and Diego, from the tale of their first meeting during her childhood, through their tumultuous first marriage and their reunification. Dining after Dark features a lecture followed by a buffet dinner and a walking tour of the exhibition. Exhibition ticket included.

Enjoy Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, from October 26, 2019 through January 19, 2020 at the North Carolina Museum of Art.

Editor’s Note: Now extended through January 26, 2020, with special weekend hours!

PS- Do you have an event or venue you’d like us to check out? Email us about partnering opportunities at We’d love to help you spread the word!

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