Experiencing the art of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Mexico City
Diego Rivera–using his art for social justice and storytelling
Secretaria de Educacion
I have a whole new respect for Diego Rivera’s work. I was familiar with him before but now I understand to a greater detail what he was trying to do with his artwork. Many of his themes reveal the lives of indigenous people, issues of class and capitalism and political struggles of the times. He tried to push the envelope and paint what he thought was important.
He is created Man, Controller of the Universe which was supposed to be in the Rockefeller building in NYC but was destroyed after he included a unflattering portrayal of John D. Rockefeller and a picture of Lenin. Man, Controller of the Universe is now in Bellas Artes in Mexico city–a building which is a work of art in of itself.
When I went to my third stop in Mexico City to see Diego Rivera’s work in the Secretaria de Educacion–I was blown away. Not only is the atrium beautiful but his frescos adorn every alcove for three floors. His work in the Secretaria de Educcaion building is immense and I could imagine the hours he spent and the political impact of having indigenous people adorn these walls. It made me happy that he used the fervor he felt for art for justice and inclusion
Frida Kahlo–vida por vida
Frida Kahlo Museum
Frida on the other hand painted images mostly of herself and at the time no one was doing so. They didn’t take her seriously which seems rather surprising in this day and age of the selfie. People around the world are attracted to her beauty, boldness and the way rawness of her pain in her artwork. She is now said to be the most famous Latin American artist of all time.
Visiting the Frida Kahlo museum which has her home for many years in Coyoacan, a neighborhood in Mexico city brought everything I knew about her to a more personal level. I saw where she painted, where she slept and I saw her clothes. I learned that no matter what she suffered she rarely spoke of it to friends in her home as she didn’t want to turn them off which is perhaps why her artwork was such a powerful outlet.
It was hard to not still romanticize the life of Frida and Diego seeing the way they lived, their home adorned with beautiful colors, their values and intellectual life expressed throughout. The tall windows and courtyards where they would have enjoyed the warmth of the Mexican sun.
This painting was done towards the end of her life and it says, “Vida la Vida–Live for Life”. Still after what she endured: polio, the accident on the bus, many unsuccessful spinal surgeries, physical pain that never left, miscarriages, adultery, loss of a foot–she still lived by this mantra.
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