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Minister Deenihan opens Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera exhibition at IMMA

Minister Deenihan opens Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera exhibition at IMMA

The Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs, Mr Jimmy Deenihan, TD, this evening (Tuesday 5 April 2011) officially opened the eagerly-awaited exhibition of works by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition, drawn from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of Modern Mexican Art, features many of the artists’ most iconic paintings and offers a rich insight into the work and lives of two of the most celebrated figures in modern art.  Lithographs, drawings, collages and a page from Kahlo’s diary are also included, alongside photographs of the artists by some of the most renowned photographers of the day.

Speaking at the opening of the exhibition Minister Deenihan saidm, “it is wonderful to see the celebrated Kahlo self-portraits, probably among the most iconic paintings in 20th-century art, in an Irish museum.  The lives of Kahlo and Rivera could never be called conventional and it is intriguing to see how much of their work grew out of their fascinating and colourful lives. Kahlo and Rivera are the latest in an impressive list of leading international artists whose work IMMA has brought to the Irish gallery-going public. The fact that IMMA can persuade such bodies as The Vergel Foundation to make such priceless works available to it, is a testament to the position which IMMA has attained in the international arts arena.”

The exhibition, entitled Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera: Masterpieces of the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, presents six of Kahlo’s famous self-portraits, her favourite mode of expression. Several, such as Self Portrait with Bed or Me and My Doll, 1937, and Self-Portrait as Tehuana or Diego on My Mind, 1943, reflect the artist’s personal difficulties, ranging from a horrific tram accident and her subsequent ill health and miscarriages to the sometime troubled nature of her relationship with Rivera. He himself described Kahlo as “an artist who tore open her chest and heart to reveal the biological truth of her feelings.”

While Rivera also created many striking works of a more personal nature, his colourful paintings of everyday Mexican scenes and Mexican-Indian children, such as the famous Calla Lily Vendors, 1943, and Girl with Gloves, 1943, stem from his prominent position in Mexico’s public life. These works have their origin in his role in the 1920s as a leader of the Mexican post-revolutionary cultural movement, of which his famous murals on similar themes are arguably the most glorious legacy.

In addition to the diaries and photographs, the exhibition is further extended by the inclusion of photographs by Frida Kahlo’s German-born father, Guillermo Kahlo, of churches around Mexico City and Tepotzlan, and by the showing of a conceptual film by Japanese artist Yasumasa Morimura, in which he takes on Kahlo’s persona.

Commenting on the importance of the exhibition to the Museum, IMMA’s Director, Enrique Juncosa, said: “It is enormously satisfying to have in the Museum the Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits from the Gelman Collection, which are among the most famous images of 20th-century art. I am sure our visitors will not miss this opportunity to enjoy them.”

For the Embassy of Mexico, Alicia Kerber, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. welcomed the presentation of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s works for the first time in Ireland. “For Mexican art, the Gelman Collection represents a splendid and powerful voice that has been heard worldwide,” she said.

The Gelman Collection is a significant collection of more than 300 works of Modern and Contemporary Mexican Art which is housed in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and was established by Jacques and Natasha Gelman in 1943 to support Mexican artists.  Along with works by Kahlo and Rivera, it also holds major works by David Alfaro Siqueiros, José Clemente Orozco, Leonora Carrington, Rufino Tamayo and Francisco Toledo, among others.

The exhibition, which continues until 26 June 2011, is curated by Seán Kissane, Head of Exhibitions at IMMA.

The exhibition is sponsored by BNY Mellon and supported by the Mexican Embassy, The Irish Times, and the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs.

Admission: €5.00, concession: €3.00. Admission is free to all on Fridays.
Admission is free at all times for under-18s, those in full-time education, those on organised Museum programmes and IMMA Members.

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday: 10.00am - 5.30pm
except Wednesday: 10.30am - 5.30pm
Sundays and Bank Holidays: 12noon - 5.30pm
Mondays and Friday 22 April: Closed

For further information and images please contact Vanessa Cowley or
Patrice Molloy at Tel: +353 1 612 9900; Email:

5 April 2011

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