Exploring the art – and the relationship – of one of art history’s most celebrated couplings, the Art Gallery of New South Wales presents Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, currently on display until 9 October 2016.
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera brings together 33 works by the artists as well as three short films; personal letters and 57 photographs documenting Kahlo and Rivera’s lives. The exhibition considers the fruits of their companionship from their artistic output, to their public personas and impact on popular culture.
Dr Michael Brand, director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, said the exhibition presents an important opportunity for Australian audiences across the nation.
“It has been more than a decade since either Kahlo or Rivera’s work has been seen in Australia and it is the first time ever their work has been exhibited in Sydney,” said Dr Brand. “The exhibition reveals the artists’ fiercely independent artistic visions while also pointing to political, cultural and personal concerns that affected them both.”
Jacques and Natasha Gelman began collecting Mexican modern art during the 1940s. Close friends of Kahlo and Rivera, they amassed a significant collection including commissioned works by Kahlo and Rivera. The exhibition is in many ways a portrait of two marriages – the first being that of the artists and the second being that of the Gelman’s, who had a profoundly collaborative and dedicated approach to collecting the avant-garde artists of their time.
Robert Littman, President of the Vergel Foundation which owns and manages the Gelman Collection, said he is delighted that Kahlo and Rivera’s masterpieces will be seen in Sydney for the first time.
“Natasha and Jacques Gelman enthusiastically acquired and commissioned works by Frida Kahlo and her husband, Diego Rivera, when there were only a handful of collectors in Mexico,” said Mr Littman. “Their passion for Mexican art continues through the Vergel Foundation which actively collects contemporary Mexican art and supports Mexican artists.”
The lives and work of artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera continue to captivate audiences more than half a century after their deaths. Nicholas Chambers, coordinating curator and Art Gallery of NSW Senior Curator Modern and Contemporary International Art, said their unconventional bond was passionate and fiery, steeped in political ideals and their love of indigenous Mexican culture.
“Kahlo and Rivera were a constant inspiration to one another. They remained companions through marriage, separation, a multitude of affairs, financial troubles, considerable bouts of illness and a troubled political landscape,” said Mr Chambers. “Their dedication and respect for one another’s practice was unrelenting and this exhibition highlights that enduring connection.”
‘Fridamania’ is alive and well in Sydney with the Gallery experiencing one of the highest-ever advance tickets sales of an exhibition prior to opening. Gallery-goers are encouraged to book in advance to secure entry to the exhibition. The colour and vibrancy of Mexico will also be celebrated in the Gallery’s Entrance Court for Art After Hours with Frida flower-making and the sounds of Victor Valdes’ Real Mexico Mariachi Band.
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera is also accompanied by An unconventional union, a series of performance lectures by Australian artists who will consider the exhibition from a social, historical and political context.
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney
Exhibition continues to 9 October 2016
Admission fees apply
For more information, visit: www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au for details.
Image: Frida Kahlo, Diego on my mind (Self-portrait as Tehuana) 1943. The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of Mexican Art © 2016 Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico DF