March 01, 2013 Slideshows

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Snapshots: Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics, and Painting 

Collection of Museo Dolores Olmedo, Xochimilco, Mexico. © 2012 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D. F./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Marginalia:
At the edge of lithographs and drawings, Kahlo and Rivera often wrote dedications or stray thoughts. Take, for example, Rivera’s self-portrait from 1930. On the left side, he dedicates it to Dolores Olmedo, to whom he gave the lithograph in 1930. Sometime after that, she gave it back, because on the right side, there is a much longer and complicated dedication from 1955, when he gave it to her for the second time. Read between those lines and you’ll find the shape of a scandal.
Collection of Museo Dolores Olmedo, Xochimilco, México.  © 2013 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D. F./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Lovers:
The fact that Kahlo and Rivera were famously in love and married (twice) doesn’t mean they were actually faithful to one another. Scattered throughout the exhibit is subtle evidence of their other lovers, like a nude lithograph of Olmedo by Diego or a group of photos of Kahlo by Nickolas Muray, who courted her for years.
Wyatt Williams
Reading Rooms:
Museum reading rooms typically have all the charm of a doctor’s waiting room: a padded bench or two and a couple of worn-out pamphlets to leaf through if you must sit down. In a surprisingly forward-thinking move, the High enlisted Mexican designers Hector Esrawe and Ignacio Cadena to create two surreal, monochromatic lounges, one red and one yellow. They’re so well-designed that you might mistake them for untouchable art. Go ahead and sit down.
Collection of Museo Dolores Olmedo, Xochimilco, México. © 2012 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D. F./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Symbolism: Both Kahlo and Rivera were unabashed in their use and abuse of symbolic imagery. Kahlo drops in objects — a snail, a fruit tree — with the context-less panache of a surrealist, while Rivera packs enough calla lilies into his frames to qualify as a true obsessive. What should you make of these flowers and mollusks? That’s the fun part.
Wolfgang Sauber. Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City. Wikimedia Commons.
Famous Faces:
Rivera’s paintings are packed with both nameless workers and historical figures. The High has reproduced a number of his murals in close-to-life-size scale. Can you tell the difference between a bearded worker and Karl Marx? How about the difference between a suited banker and Vladimir Lenin? And who is that guy with the familiar-looking jaw? This game can go on for hours.
4/5
Collection of Museo Dolores Olmedo, Xochimilco, México. © 2012 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D. F./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Symbolism: Both Kahlo and Rivera were unabashed in their use and abuse of symbolic imagery. Kahlo drops in objects — a snail, a fruit tree — with the context-less panache of a surrealist, while Rivera packs enough calla lilies into his frames to qualify as a true obsessive. What should you make of these flowers and mollusks? That’s the fun part.
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