When preparing oneself to go view an exhibition of work by high-profile artists, it is very easy to build-up expectations of the work, the show, and its curation. Especially when the work is wildly popular, being reproduced on mugs, tshirts, prints, you-name-it; when one of the artist’s involved is partially a sacred relic but also maybe a buzzword. Especially when the show is made up primarily of work by two artists that are romanticized, fetishized and idolized as individual people, but particularly as a couple. When I learned about the Frida and Diego show coming to the Heard Museum, of course I was excited. However, my ideas (good and bad) about what the show could be began to fester.
Stemming from the collection of Jacques and Natasha Gelman, the show is primarily about the work, and its history, and the history of the collection. While the show consists of Frida and Diego (in paintings, drawing, collage, clothing and a vinyl-sticker timeline of both of their careers), it also includes the work of other prominent Mexican painters that the Gelmans collected, and helped associate into the American painting scene.
The curation of the work does lead for some instances of juxtaposition between the artist’s and their styles. With cascading walls, and created “rooms” for viewing certain pieces, there is a lot of room for intimacy and understanding the work of the artists and separate people, and as well as a couple.
The Gelman’s commitment to the work of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera is evident through the massive amount of work by and documentation of the artists. The show is able to accomplish this without abandoning the personal natue of the work, as well as without censoring the controversial or dramatic aspects of their life. There is a healthy ablance of biography and artwork that allows for the pieces to speak on their own, as they should.