Saturday, October 15, 2016


It's apparently been at least 50 years since the public was treated to such a feast of Mexican art, but many will agree that the new show at the Grand Palais in Paris has been worth the wait.

The poster for the exhibition.
 Courtesy of Rmn-Grand Palais
Titled Mexique 1900 - 1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Orozco and the avant-garde, the exhibition gives a wide-ranging view of Mexico’s best known artists as well as numerous others, placing them in a historical overview.

According to curator Agustin Arteaga Dominguez, the exhibition (which started earlier this month) offers a “fresh new look” at the “limitless Mexican art scene” of the first half of the 20th century.

More than 200 works fill two floors of the Grand Palais, tracing “a vast panorama across modern Mexico, from the first stirrings of the Revolution to the middle of the 20th century, complemented by a number of works from contemporary artists”.

This is a period particularly known for the Mexican School of Painting and its most prominent movement, Muralism. The French and Mexican co-organizers have thus given pride of place to the imposing works of “los Tres Grandes” (the Three Greats), as the most influential muralists were called: José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Diego Rivera.

Frida Kahlo's The Two Fridas, 1939,
Collection Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico
Their work defined the era following the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920, and many of the paintings have become iconic. 

But the show spotlights other major artists, with a section, for instance, on “strong women” – where Frieda Kahlo is naturally the star. Her paintings here include the captivating “Self Portrait with Cropped Hair” and “The Two Fridas”, presented in a kind of conversation with the works of fellow artists such as Nahui Olin and Rosa Rolanda.

Overall, the exhibition is so impressively ambitious in scope that it’s hard to take in everything. Still, even if viewers see only a couple of murals by Rivera and Orozco, and one or two paintings by Kahlo, the trip will have been worth it. - Tasshon

"Mexique 1900 - 1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Orozco and the avant-garde" is on at the Grand Palais in Paris until Jan. 23, 2017. It's co-organized by France’s Réunion des  musées nationaux-Grand Palais and Mexico’s Secretaría de Cultura, Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Museo Nacional de Arte.