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"Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Twentieth-Century Mexican Art: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection"
2000-05-14 until 2000-09-04
Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla
San Diego, CA, USA United States of America

Jacques and Natasha Gelman viewed collecting art as an essential means to connect with their time and culture. Born in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1909, Jacques Gelman founded film distribution companies in France and Mexico and made his fortune producing movies starring popular comic Mario Moreno, also known as Cantinflas. In the 1940s, Gelman married Natasha Zahalka, an immigrant from Moravia, a region of Czechoslovakia, and the couple settled in Mexico City, where they began to assemble extraordinary collections of European and Mexican modern art. In 1998, the year of Natasha's death (Jacques died in 1986), the Gelmans donated their European paintings to New York's Metropolitan Museum - a gift that Director Phillipe de Montebello called 'the most important gift ever to the 20th-century department and in fact one of the most important gifts to any department in the museum' - but the Gelman Estate retained and continued to add to their outstanding Mexican collection.

Today, the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of twentieth-century Mexican art is widely regarded as the world’s most significant private holding of its kind. Dating from the 1910s to the 1990s, the 80-plus paintings, sculptures, and photographs in the exhibition represent the broad range of artistic developments in Mexico during the last century-from early experiments with European Cubism and Surrealism, to post-revolutionary efforts to develop an indigenous Mexican aesthetic, to the broad range of styles of post-World War II abstraction and realism. Reflecting the diversity and dynamism of Mexican culture, the collection includes works by major figures in twentieth-century Mexican art.

Special strongholds of the collection are its many paintings by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, whose psychologically and politically charged imagery, along with their tempestuous relationship, has made them the stuff of legend. Other important mid-century Mexican artists in the collection include Gunther Gerzso, María Izquierdo, Carlos Merida, Jose Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Rufino Tamayo. The Gelman Collection also includes a number of significant contemporary figures such as Cisco Jimenez, Gabriel Orozco, and Paula Santiago.

Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Twentieth-Century Mexican Art: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection is co-organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, The Dallas Museum of Art, and Phoenix Art Museum, in collaboration with Robert Littman, curator of the Gelman Collection and former Director of the Centro del Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City.

This project - including the exhibition, catalogue, programs, and national tour - is sponsored by Aetna. The San Diego presentation is made possible, in part, by major contributions from Ron and Mary Taylor and Dr. Mary and Dr. James Bergland. Related educational and interpretive programs are funded, in part, by grants from the Wallace-Reader's Digest Funds, The A & B Bloom Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, the California Arts Council, and the County of San Diego.

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