“Mexican Modernism” is coming to the Albuquerque Museum this year, running between the months of February and May. The exhibit, which represents a fraction of the collection of Jacques and Natasha Gelman, highlights the energy and spirit of Mexican-style art.
Frida Kahlo is surely the most well-known Mexican modernist, and the exhibit will highlight several of her works, alongside those of her husband, Diego Rivera. The exhibition seeks to spotlight the subject through the lens of the artists. It will feature the story of Kahlo’s life, illustrated by some of her most important paintings.
“Her work tends to be pretty intimate, which leads to telling her own story, but it’s also connected to a very quintessential Mexican identity,” says Albuquerque Museum Art Curator Josie Lopez. “I believe that’s an important thing to discover, is to not just see Kahlo as an artist, but her role in a particular moment, which currently people are assessing that Mexican Modernism is one of the more important movements of the 20th century.”
Not only will the exhibit feature paintings, but it will also include photography, showing the emergence and development of the practice. Photos from artists such as Manuel Álvarez Bravo and his wife Lola Álvarez Bravo create a different section of the exhibition that explores how the movement wasn’t just the “tres grandes”—the bigger names from the muralist movement like Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros.
“It’s important for our New Mexicans in our region to think about our relationship to Mexico,” Lopez expresses. “This is a great opportunity to really see how these works and these artists shaped this particular time period in the art world.”
This exhibition will be a deep connection to the historical bridge between Mexican and New Mexican culture. It provides an opportunity to not only celebrate this important movement in art but to think about the relationship that ties the two cultures together. It’s a recognition of when the state was a part of Mexico. It gives an insight into the intimate connection of our history and heritage with the country.
“I think, a lot of the time, this is what people really miss; instead of thinking of our culture with Mexico, they tend to think about our relationship with the border,” Lopez exclaims. “The collection the Gelman family put together really transcends the concepts of the border because it gets us thinking about the identity of true Mexican culture and how it’s a mecca for art, architecture and being one of the many wonders of the world.”
The collection of work is a combination of the Gelmans’ lifelong interests. The husband-and-wife team emigrated to Mexico from Europe and became actual friends with many of the artists being highlighted in the exhibition. The two were collectors when “Mexican Modernism” was capturing the imagination of the people from Mexico. Some of the pieces from the collection are considered the “national treasure of Mexico” and have become part of the country’s national patrimony.
The collective has been on the move for a while now, but it takes a different iteration in each place it stops. In a city where Latino pride runs high, this show is an inspiration to the Latino culture. The exhibition runs from Feb. 6 through May 2.