Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera are undoubtedly two of the 20th century’s most important artists in Mexico and Latin America. Just this year, their works set two records. Back in May, Frida’s 1939 “Two Nudes in the Forest (The Land Itself)” sold for a little more than $8 million at Christie’s sale of impressionist and modern art. This sale made Kahlo the best-selling Latin American painter of all time. A month later, he dethroned Kahlo as the best-selling Latin American artist with the $15.7 million sale of his 1928 “Dance in Tehuantepec” painting. And though the attention lavished upon Kahlo and Rivera is well deserved, a new exhibit wants to spotlight the other artists whose work shaped Mexico’s art scene during the first half of the 20th century.
Titled Mexique (1900-1950). Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco et les Avant-Gardes, the Grand Palais exhibit showcases 203 works. “Since its independence won from the Spanish monarchy in 1821, Mexico has never ceased to assert its willingness for change and its spirit of modernity,” the museum states on its website. “With painting, sculpture, architecture, urbanism, music, literature, film, and the applied arts, the country has forged its identity… Offering a panorama of famous artists such as Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and Rufino Tamayo, the exhibition tour is a testament to the vibrant artistic creativity of the country throughout the 20th century.”
Starting today and running through January 23, the Grand Palais will display the largest collection centered on Mexican art since 1953. The exhibit also hopes to give some shine to artists overshadowed by Kahlo and Rivera. According to Agustín Arteaga, who previously worked at the Museo Nacional de Arte en Mexico City, Mexique isn’t trying to minimize the accomplishments of Frida and Diego. “The intention is to do away with cliches and deepen the reality of Mexican art, beyond the shadow of those titans, who have hidden various generations of artists,” he told El País.
A part of the exhibit’s dedicated to female artists, which includes six of Kahlo’s work. But lesser-known names like Dolores Olmedo, Tina Modotti, Rosa Rolanda, and Lola Álvarez’s work will get the platform they deserve.
In recent years, Mexico and France have had a shaky relationship. In 2011, a Mexican court sentenced Frenchwoman Florence Cassez to 60 years in jail. And that same year, French officials canceled the Año de Mexico en Francia. But Enrique Peña Nieto and François Hollande came together in 2014 because they wanted to normalize relations between the two nations. This exhibit is a result of that.