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Press Area

from 20 September 2014 to 08 February 2015
Genoa, Palazzo Ducale

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera

Press Release

A couple, two different worlds, two universal artists. Diego Rivera was 42 years old when, in 1929, he married Frida Kahlo, who was 20 years younger than him. He had 7 years of art school and 14 of experience in Europe under his belt, while Frida was self-taught. At the time, the celebrity was Diego, who had a one-man exhibition at the MoMa in New York just a year after their marriage. Frida had her first personal show in New York only 9 years later.

The story of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera is not only the marriage of two famous twentieth-century artists, but also one of a bond that very soon took on the characteristics of a legend. The reciprocal jealousy and betrayals, the divorce and two marriages: every event of their lives made their bond something more than a simple mutual attraction. Then there were the political battles, the circle of artists and intellectuals they frequented, from Picasso to Breton, and their contacts with the wealthiest and most influential men in the world, from Rockefeller to Trotsky. Their international dimension made them, in the eyes of the world, the embodiment of the Mexican spirit.

Conceived by MondoMostre Skira, which – together  with Genova Palazzo Ducale Fondazione per la Cultura – produced and organized the project, the exhibition is promoted by the Municipality of Genoa and the Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali e del Turismo through the Direzione Regionale per i Beni Culturali e Paesaggistici della Liguria, in cooperation with the Direzione Generale per la Valorizzazione del Patrimonio Culturale and the Soprintendenza per i Beni Storici, Artistici ed Etnoantropologici della Liguria. The exhibition was made possible by its main sponsor, Carispezia Gruppo Cariparma Crédit Agricole.

The exhibition at Palazzo Ducale presents not only Frida’s and Diego’s artistic development, but catapults us through a magnifying glass directly into their microcosm. Curated by the world’s leading expert, Helga Prignitz‐Poda, it also avails itself of the collaboration of Frida’s great-niece Cristina Kahlo and Diego’s grandson Juan Coronel Rivera to reveal in a more intimate and familiar style the secret ties that held the two artists together in their double art-life bond. The catalogues is published by Skira.

On display are the self-portraits, the paintings and drawings in which they portray each other, and the portraits of patrons and friends: more than 130 works of the two artists together for the first time in Italy. In addition, there is a large selection of photographs, with more than 80 taken by important photographers, such as Nickolas Muray, Manuel and Lola Alvarez Bravo, Florence Arquin, and Leo Matiz, as well as a series of period film clips that reconstruct the couple’s private life, presenting its vivid and fascinating everyday aspects. Aware of their roles and status as contemporary stars, Frida and Diego allowed movie and ordinary cameras to capture them in both moments of tenderness and “institutional” situations, as well as with their brushes and palettes in front of a canvas, adding with every move to their fame and their myth.

The exhibition traces the contrasting destinies of the famous couple, from the beginning to the years of maturity spent together, comparing their reciprocal influences and the manner in which each tended to represent the other. In addition to the paintings, drawings, and photographs, the last section displays the traditional clothes worn by Frida, which have inspired, and continue to inspire, the most famous fashion designers and take us inside the Casa Azul, in the midst of devotional paintings and pre-Colombian statues, where Frida’s and Diego’s creations represented the period’s post-revolutionary spirit at its best.