“There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the trolley, and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.” – Friday Kahlo

Heather James presents an intimate glimpse of works by two of the most important artists of the 20th century – Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. The theme running through these artworks is their ability to confront the realities of both the artist and of their socio-political environments.

The display opens with one of the most personal works, a painted cast corset by Frida Kahlo. Kahlo looked within to capture her own universe and express her own life and emotions. This work is unique in that it is her personal cast which she transformed into a painted sculpture. She wore these plaster corsets as her spine was too weak to support itself. With an object this intimate and crucial, it is natural that she transformed them into expressions of herself. She covered this piece in her own beliefs and symbols, exploding with her vocabulary of color.

The works by Diego Rivera show his ability to express Mexican identity whether focusing on manual laborers or the upper echelons of society. As one of the founders and pioneers of the Mexican Muralist movement, Rivera’s impact has been in both style and in combining the political and artistic. Flowers played a large role in his body of work and so too do they express hidden depths of identity and politics along the personal and political. Explore our virtual viewing room for each work by Rivera and Kahlo to dive into an in-depth analysis including art historical and market analysis.

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera had a complex and intense marriage. As observed in Kahlo’s quote that opens this text, the line refers to the turbulence in their relationship, yet there was a deep and strong connection between the two. They endured multiple affairs in their open marriage and through their works featured each other across a spectrum of emotions and poses – romantic, traumatic, revolutionary – that captured their status to each other in the moment of painting. There may have been turmoil at the heart of their relationship, but there was support and unconventional love between them. Although Rivera was already an established artist when they met and throughout their marriage would be the more famous artist, the two now stand side-by-side as towering figures of art, their influence felt within Mexico and across the world.