More than Just Frida

To say that the new Mexican Art Exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art, Me?xico 1900–1950, is a hit, would be an understatement. Crowds of people line up every day; from young art enthusiasts enjoying a lazy Sunday to groups of Mexican heritage, they all have the same thing in common: the urge to learn more about the colorful art history of Mexico.

Already drawing in around 35,000 visitors since its opening on March 12, the exhibit has been very well received.

Julie Henley, the Communications and Marketing Coordinator of the museum, said that the DMA is a community museum.

“We hope that everyone in North Texas and beyond comes to enjoy these masterworks of Mexican Modernism many times throughout the run of the exhibition, which is on view through July 16,” Henley said.

The exhibition, curated by the newly appointed Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art Dr. Agusti?n Arteaga, features work by Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Jose? Clemente Orozco. However, there are 190 pieces by over 60 different artists featured, among them include A?ngel Za?rraga, Tina Modotti, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Leonora Carrington, Roberto Montenegro and Miguel Covarrubias.

With Frida Kahlo’s work tucked in the back of the exhibit, crowds often rush straight to her captivating works, waiting in a line to take a quick picture with her recognizable face.

Although Rivera, Kahlo and Orozco draw in the crowds, they do not make up all the renowned Mexican artists that are represented at the exhibit.

“Works of art in the Me?xico 1900–1950 came from 61 lenders, both from private collections and other museums,” Henley said.

Frida Kahlo, who was active in the ‘40s, is world renowned for her self-portraits and her surgical-like subjects. She was married to Diego Rivera, who is known for his portraits of the working class and native peoples in Mexico at the time.

Upper School Spanish Teacher Alejandra Sua?rez said, “It makes me proud to have not only a Mexican representation, but the emphasis on the work of a female figure.”

Rivera is also widely known for his surrealist work.

“Surrealism is a form of artwork that is often non-realistic and dreamlike; situations that could not occur in reality. Some common known surrealists would probably be Rene? Magritte and Salvador Dali, with his melting clocks imagery, ” AP Studio Art Teacher Emily Bemenderfer said.

Jose? Clemente Orozco is the lesser known of the three, but not a bit less talented. He is especially known for his political murals which helped establish the Mexican Mural Renaissance with Rivera.

With quick info-graphics throughout, the exhibit also emphasizes the impact that the Mexican Revolution had on the country’s political, historical and cultural formation. The conflict from 1910-1920 changed the country’s social structure and affected Mexican art in a substantial way, from art with lighter tones to more serious subjects.

Art before the Revolution was vibrant and focused on European movements such as Post-Impressionism, Futurism and Cubism. The pre-revolutionary art at the exhibit clearly emphasised this theme, with vibrant fruits and colorful flowers.

Before the Mexican Revolution, Paris was the stomping ground for many of the Greats, for example Monet and Degas, as well as a major influencer for Rivera and Kahlo. The Mexican government would pay for prominent Mexican artists to learn about the “old masters” to help establish their careers.

When the Mexican Revolution broke out, the artists would either return home to Mexico to help with the movement or seek refuge with wealthy European families.

The Revolution created a new movement called muralism, which fed off of the search for a national visual language. This movement was embraced by three of the Mexican “greats”: Diego Rivera, Jose Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, who are all featured in the exhibit.

Artists focused on nationalism as a way to transmit the ideals of the Revolution. They distanced themselves away from the avant-garde movements.

One of the visitors excited to see the exhibit was sophomore Clarissa Fuentes, a Hockaday Student with Mexican heritage.

“I think it’s really nice that other people from different cultures can see the art that we have grown up with, and to have the ability to share it with others,” Fuentes said. “They can see a different side of art.”

Sua?rez also wants to visit the exhibit.

“I am really excited that this major exhibition is here in Dallas for us to be delighted with Classic Mexican Art… it makes me proud because it can broaden the under- standing of modern Mexican art’s meaning,” Sua?rez said.

Although the DMA is no stranger to Mexican art, with some permanent pieces adorning the walls and also having held 33 exhibitions of Mexican art, Me?xico 1900– 1950, is the largest thus far.

Dr. Agusti?n Artega, who was born in Mexico City and has held museum directorships in Mexico, Puerto Rico and Argentina, assumed the position of Director of the DMA last September. He began curating Me?xico 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Jose? Clemente Orozco and the Avant-Garde in collaboration with the Sec- retari?a de Cultura de Me?xico for the Grand Palais in Paris while working at The Museo Nacional de Arte in Mexico City.

“I look forward to working with the Museum’s Board of Trustees, who recognize the critical role that the DMA plays locally, nationally, and internationally,” Artega stated on the DMA website.

The DMA is also famous for its powerful and captivating retrospectives, from exhibits featuring International Pop art to French artist’s’ still lifes and from artists such as Matisse and Chardin.

“We wish to educate our community about art from all over the world and other cultures. It is exciting to see people relating to their own cultures in new ways and others learning about it for the first time,” Henley said.

The exhibition will be open to the public through July 16. The entrance is free for members and $16 for non-members.

“We hope visitors will leave with a greater appreciation and understanding of the art, culture, and time period of Me?xico 1900–1950,” Henley said.


Paige Halverson – Castoff Editor

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Paige Halverson

Sometimes referred to as 30K Paige, Regan or just simply Pickle, Paige loves to ski, hike and 2k. She is usually found on Spotify, trying to recreate Tasty Videos or at Bachman Lake.

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