Rosa Rolanda's "Self-Portrait (Autorretrato)," 1952
José Clemente Orozco's "The Soldaderas (Las soldaderas)," 1926
Diego Rivera's "Juchitán River (Río Juchitán) Panel 2," 1953-1955
Frida Kahlo's "The Two Fridas (Las dos Fridas)," 1939
Tiburcio Sánchez de la Barquera's "Escandón Arango Family Portrait (Retrato de la Familia Escandón Arango)," 1867
There’s no wall at the Dallas Museum of Art this month.
The only barrier may be a crowd-control device for “México 1900-1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde” — an exhibition that every American should see for a more complete understanding of our neighbor to the south.
The timing of the exhibition couldn’t be more prescient. It also signals the Dallas debut, as well as the scholarly and democratic bent of the DMA’s new hire: museum director Dr. Agustín Arteaga. The eagerly watched show lands in Dallas after its critically acclaimed Paris run at the Grand Palais that opened last October.
“México 1900-1950” highlights the cult of Diego and Frida, as well as the iconic Orozco and Siqueiros. But as the best museum shows do, it also illuminates new scholarship, points to big-picture conclusions, and enlarges the public’s understanding.
The epoch on view — the apocryphal first 50 years of the 20th century, amidst the Mexican Revolution and the birth of the Mexican Renaissance. Two hundred works — painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, and film — begin a new volume on Mexican art history mirroring the sociopolitical history of the turbulent times.
Arteaga also looks to the 19th century for the roots of his native country’s interest in indigenous people and the birth of a new avant garde. Women have their place in this revised story, too. Arteaga examines unknown female artists and patrons, including photographer Tina Modotti (Madonna at one time optioned a film on her life), painter Rosa Rolanda (you’ll swear she’s a contemporary Pop Surrealist), and influential collector Dolores Olmedo (Rivera painted her portrait), who founded an eponymous museum in her own mansion to preserve the works of Rivera and Kahlo.
Chapters on Mexican artists in Europe and America underscore the intercontinental nature of this time of high creativity and cultural ferment.
“México 1900-1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde,” March 12 through July 16, at the Dallas Museum of Art.