By Edward Cardenas
DETROIT (CBS Detroit) – Diego Rivera’s “Detroit Industry” is considered one of the artist’s finest works, and can only be seen at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
While the 27-panel fresco in the garden courtyard of the museum has been viewed, studied and admired for decades, there hasn’t been an exhibit which has focused on the year Rivera spent in Detroit to create the landmark murals and the impact it had on him – and his wife Frida Kahlo – until now.
“Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit” – an exhibit 10 years in the making – opens March 15 at the Detroit Institute of Arts and features a presentation of works of art created by Rivera and Kahlo between April 1932 and March 1933, their creations in the time preceding and following the creation of the murals along with multi-media video and computer presentations.
“Although it is separate from the exhibition space, the mural is at the center of exhibition,” said Graham W. J. Beal, DIA director, who states “Detroit Industry” is the DIA’s “Mona Lisa.” “It’s the work of art we are known for.”
The exhibit explores not only their works of art, but the growth of their relationship and art style with works of art from collections around the world. Kahlo’s works on display range from her self-portraits and paintings of Mexican life, to the deeply personal “Henry Ford Hospital” which explored the loss of her pregnancy.
“This combination of pain, violence of some kind, self-examination are the components that you find regularly in her art from then on,” said Beal, of hospital painting.
Rivera’s works portraying life in Mexico and self portraits are on display in the exhibit along with his preparatory, scale drawings he created before painting on the walls of the museum. These drawings have not been seen in more than 30 years.
The combination of rarely seen works from Rivera, and showcasing those form Kahlo – who Beal said now “outshines” her husband – make this exhibit an international draw.
“Frida is an event wherever she goes,” said Beal. “We knew she would be the pull.”
Organizers of the exhibit are also offering a number of events and activities throughout Metro Detroit which celebrate the exhibit.