Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit on display at Detroit Institute of Arts

Jun 16, 2015

Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo are two of the biggest names in 20th century art, famous for their visionary work as well as their colorful personal lives. For one memorable year, the couple resided in Detroit, and an exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) provides a window into that time.

Sponsored by Bank of America, the exhibition focuses on what was a productive period for both artists. Rivera painted his groundbreaking Detroit Industry murals between 1932 and 1933. The exhibition includes his preparatory drawings for the murals, on view for the first time in almost 30 years. For Kahlo, Detroit was where her distinctive style began to emerge. The exhibition includes works from before, during and after their chapter in Detroit, putting their time in the Motor City in the context of each one’s career.

Before coming to Detroit, Rivera’s and Kahlo’s art centered on Mexican politics, society and identity. When the artists returned home, Rivera continued to paint murals and Kahlo established herself as an artist in her own right, painting self-portraits in the style she developed in Detroit.

In 2013, the Bank of America Art Conservation Project awarded the DIA a grant to examine, conserve, digitally photograph and mount Rivera’s preparatory drawings for the Detroit Industry murals. Five of these life-sized drawings are on display as part of the exhibition. As part of its sponsorship, the bank is also providing admission to 2,000 Detroit students. of these life-sized drawings are on display as part of this exhibition.


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