Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism exhibit: what to see + experience

The much-anticipated Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera exhibit at NCMA opens Saturday, and it includes photos and work revealing Frida the person behind the Frida the icon.

The context: It’s from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman collection, patrons of Diego and Frida. It’s not a definitive look at Mexican Modernist art, but it is a personal collection from two people who knew them.

When to see it: The ticketed exhibit, “Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism” runs through Jan. 19, 2020, and you can see Scott Avett’s INVISIBLE while you’re there. It’s in the East Building of the North Carolina Museum of Art. [learn more]

Raleigh Convergence got an early look at the Frida Kahlo exhibit at NCMA as part of a media preview. Here are some ways to experience and engage with the exhibit:

Share an offering to a loved one or the artists: Mexican Artist Peter Marin created an ofrenda at the entrance of the exhibit that attendees can engage with. 

It’s a massive 30-foot structure of tissue paper, craft paper, cardboard and clay that corresponds with the Mexican tradition of Day of the Dead, where families remember those who died. You can write a note and leave it on the ofrenda. Note the calaveras (skulls) and calacas (skeletons), and a bottle of tequila and fruit. 

Peter Marin’s ofrenda

Step inside Casa Azul: Projections of the home Frida and Diego shared include aspects of how they spent time in their home in an immersive experience. 

See the dichotomy between Frida the person and Frida the icon: Frida’s work was deeply personal, and though she’s iconic today, some of the photos and the history within the exhibit peel back the layers to who she was as a person. 

She began painting after she was critically injured in a bus accident, and she created art around her miscarriages and loss of mobility, which viewers can see in photographs and timelines. While there are some beautiful and iconic images of Frida, some are casual, playing around with a camera. 

A casual photo of Frida
Frida with a friend’s camera.

Diego’s work and mural projection: While Frida is more well known now, Diego was the more prominent artist of the two when they were living. Diego Rivera is known for his murals, and there’s a projection showing the two while Diego creates a mural in Detroit. Other works by Diego include a portrait of a child from an indigenous group in Mexico, another of vendors selling calla lillies. 

More before-you-go details: 

  • Photography without flash is permitted
  • #NCMAfrida on social media
  • Tickets are $18 adults, $15 seniors, military, college students (with ID), $12 youth 7-18 and 6 and younger are free.
  • Frida Cafe, at the Blue Ridge Atrium in the East Building, will have a menu including tacos, soups and salads, Mexican-inspired drinks (alcoholic and not)

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