México 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde

Yesterday, I left the studio and went to the Dallas Museum of Art, in its final weekend of a huge retrospective of work by Mexican artists. Many were artists I was familiar with, but there were also many whose work I was seeing for the first time, which is always a treat.

It goes without saying that the Kahlos and Riveras were impressive. But perhaps my favorite piece was by neither. It was a large painting by a French artist, Alice Rahon, titled 'Balada de Frida Kahlo' (Ballad of Frida Kahlo).

If you look closely, what looks like buildings are actually animals. I love the painting's dreamlike quality and now feel compelled to learn more about Rahon and her work.

ballad of Frida Kahol painting rahon

The museum as more crowded than I have ever seen it, especially for a Friday afternoon.

I was struck by how many of the women (and more than a few children) had dressed for the occasion - some in Kahlo-printed clothing, but more who were in heavily embroidered Mexican-style shirts or dresses, with bright colors and soft, airy cuts.

This really made me think about how Kahlo has been used in fashion and commercialization over the years. Even people without a deep pursuit of art know and can wear her on purses, blouses, even socks!

I wonder, when she set out to paint her famous self-portraits with such prolific success, could she have ever imagined where it would lead? What would her thoughts be?

No one can say with any certainty, of course. But despite - or because of - the evolving use of her image, I do not know of any other artist who inspires in the same way. I mean, I went to see a KAWS exhibit last Spring, but I didn't dress up like KAWS or the clown guy, and I didn't see anyone else who did, either.

I hope that Kahlo would be happy to see so many people feeling beautiful in the styles and colors that she presented as elements of beauty. I believe that, that too is art.

#artscouting #museums #inspiration

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