In relative terms, I can say that Mexico is a stone’s throw away. Maybe a three-hour flight or a 10, 12-hour southbound drive to the border. However, my knowledge of Mexican culture and history is rather poor. I know about Mexican food, or, at least, what passes for it here in Texas, and I also know about the many clichés that are so abundant this side of the border. So, to find out more about Mexican art and culture, I went to see the México 1900-1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco y la Avant-Garde at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) exhibition.
This exhibition explores the Mexican art of the first half of the 20th century, the history and development of modern Mexico and its cultural identity. The exhibition is held in two rooms in the 1st and 4th floors. I guess they needed that much space to house the almost 200 objects between paintings, sculptures, photos, drawings, and videos. This is the only US stop and, luckily for me, the organizers chose Dallas.
Some of the predominant themes are the workers’ struggle, illustrated with murals by David Alfaro Siqueiros; the social utopia depicted by Diego Rivera and the encounter of two worlds, that is, the artistic Exchange between Mexico and the US.
Honestly, seeing these murals and paintings -so expressive, so descriptive, so unique- gives you goosebumps. However, the work of art that moved me was The Two Fridas. That painting from 1939 depicts Frida Kahlo’s personalities after her divorce from Diego Rivera. The two Fridas are sitting side by side, their hearts joined by arteries. I wasn’t moved by its beauty because I don’t find it beautiful, but by its meaning (her feelings of loneliness and despair) and because I’ve seen it a hundred times in photos. I didn’t expect it to be so big. Neither did I expect to get goosebumps. I have seen other famous paintings, like the Gioconda, but they left me cold. It wasn’t the case here.
The Two Fridas is in the section devoted to the strong women who started to play new roles in society during and after the Mexican Revolution. Many female artists, now considered proto-feminists, searched for an artistic language that represented them.
If you happen to be in Dallas before July 16, 2017, I urge you to see this exhibition.
Admission to the museum is free. However, special exhibitions carry a fee. This one was $15.