Mexican artist Diego Rivera (1886-1957) spent several critical years early in his career in Paris, during World War I, where he immersed himself in literary and art circles and enthusiastically embraced the Cubist movement. While his Cubist works experimented with a range of genres, including landscape and still life, Rivera showed a particular affinity for portraiture, and he created empathetic and moving portrayals of some of the era’s most important figures.
Thirty-one of these works are brought together for the first time in an exclusive exhibition at SMU’s Meadows Museum. Diego Rivera: The Cubist Portraits, 1913-1917 will run June 21-Sept. 20, 2009 and is funded by The Wachovia Foundation and The Meadows Foundation.
“We are thrilled to have organized this exhibition, which will introduce to Dallas a fascinating aspect of one of Mexico’s greatest artists,” says Mark Roglán, Meadows Museum director. “Through the quality of the paintings, complexity of the drawings, and his always evolving technique, this exhibition presents a unique opportunity for our visitors to learn about and appreciate both Rivera’s portraits and Cubism at its best.”
The exhibition was inspired by a key piece in the Meadows Museum’s permanent collection, Rivera’s Portrait of Ilya Ehrenburg (top right). It is one of only 4 Cubist portraits by Rivera in a public American collection. The additional 22 paintings and 8 preparatory sketches and book illustrations are from museums and private collections in the United States and other countries, and include several works that will be exhibited publicly for the first time.
A complementary exhibition in the museum’s first-floor galleries, Mexican Art at the Meadows, will showcase lithographs by Rivera and other Mexican artists in the Meadows Museum’s permanent collection. Included will be Rivera’s portrait of his wife, Frida Kahlo, titled Seated Nude with Raised Arms, and scenes of rural and peasant life in Mexico.
In addition, the Museum will host several public programs in conjunction with the exhibition, including drop-in art classes, family events, and public lectures by Roglán, SMU Professor Emeritus of History Luís Martín, and Paloma Alarcó, curator of modern paintings at the Museum Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid.
Top right: Portrait of Ilya Ehrenburg, 1915, oil on canvas. Meadows Museum, Algur H. Meadows Collection. Photography by Michael Bodycomb.
Bottom right: Dos mujeres, 1914, oil on canvas. Arkansas Arts Center Foundation, Little Rock, Arkansas. © 2008 Banco de México Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust.