Mexican Masterpieces

Mexican Masterpieces
Diego Rivera (Mexican, 1886–1957). Retrato de la Señora Natasha Gelman (Portrait of Mrs Natasha Gelman), 1943. Oil on canvas, 45 ¼ x 60 ¼ inches. The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. The Vergel Foundation. Conaculta/INBA. © 2013 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Until August 18, the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri is the place to see more than 100 works from undoubtedly the finest collection of Mexican art. The exhibition includes paintings, sculptures, drawings and photographs from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection featuring Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera – Masterpieces of Modern Mexico.

Mexican Masterpieces
Frida Kahlo (Mexican, 1907–1954). Autorretrato con monos (Self-Portrait with Monkeys), 1943. Oil on canvas, 32 x 24 7/8 inches. The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. The Vergel Foundation. Conaculta/INBA. © 2013 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Jacques Gelman, a Russian-born film producer, and Natasha, his Czechoslovakian-born wife, married in 194 and became Mexican citizens in 1942. Over the next five decades, the Gelmans were the patrons of many internationally renowned Mexican artists. They established friendships with and collected art by such icons of Mexican modernism as Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Rufino Tamayo, and Gunther Gerzso, among others.

Stephanie Knappe, Assistant Curator of American Art at the Nelson Atkins said, “Beyond sharing iconic paintings by Kahlo and Rivera, this exhibition celebrates the breadth of the Gelmans’ collection and the richness and diversity of Mexican art, … as the Gelmans continued to meet artists, their tastes changed and their collection grew. Abstract compositions joined the figurative paintings that hung on their walls. Their deeply felt passion for Mexican art prompted a desire that their collection continues to evolve and express the vitality of contemporary Mexican art long after they were no longer able to add it to their collection themselves.”

Mexican Masterpieces
Diego Rivera (Mexican, 1886–1957). Vendedora de alcatraces (Calla Lily Vendor), 1943. Oil on canvas, 59 x 47 1/4 inches. The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of 20th Century Mexican Art. The Vergel Foundation. Conaculta/INBA. © 2013 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Although their styles were radically different, Kahlo and Rivera were similarly captivated by painting’s potential to explore the human condition. Rivera painted massive murals depicting the heroic struggle of Mexican society forging its future; Kahlo explored the inner workings of her soul, which reflect the female condition today, in a series of self-portraits that revealed her tragic medical history and affirmed her Mexican identity.

Mexican Masterpieces
Frida Kahlo (Mexican, 1907–1954). Autorretrato con collar (Self-Portrait with Necklace), 1933. Oil on metal, 13 3/4 x 11 7/16 inches. The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. The Vergel Foundation. Conaculta/INBA. © 2013 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

The Gelman collection is, in and of itself, a work of art. It is also a work in progress. Owing to the enthusiasm they felt for Mexican art, the Gelmans desired that their collection be kept up to date. Works by significant contemporary artists such as Paula Santiago, Betsabeé Romero, Francis Alÿs and Gabriel Orozco have recently entered the Gelman collection. Thanks to the discerning eye of its president, Robert Littman, the collection continues to grow and evolve according to the forward-thinking couple’s wishes.

nelson-atkins.org.

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Liz Bond

Liz Bond comes from a PR background and loves fine wine, great food and rewarding travel - all the magnificent things in life. She prides herself in an innate ability to meet famous celebrities at baggage carousels.

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