Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera & Mexican Modernism Exhibition



During the past year, international design studios Esrawe + Cadena have been working with the Denver Art Museum’s team to bring Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernism exhibition to life, which launched in November 2020 in Denver, Colorado.


Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism, from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, explores the Mexican Modernism movement through more than 150 artworks. Featuring paintings and photographs by internationally celebrated artists Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Lola Álvarez Bravo, Gunther Gerzso, María Izquierdo, Carlos Mérida, and others. The exhibition takes a closer look at the role that art, artists, and their supporters played in the emergence of national identity and creative spirit after the Mexican Revolution ended in 1920.

Mexican Modernism is an artistic movement that combines social realism and surrealistic imagery in poetry, photography, paintings, murals, that shaped Mexico’s national identity and heritage. Mexico’s cultural legacy is widely portrayed in the movement via the use of elements that link the subject matter to the Mexican motherland and its ancestral civilizations.


These direct references encompass ancient artistic techniques, architectural styles, the characterization of ancient and prominent figures (idealizing the “Mestizaje dogma”) and the Mexican landscape; the use of this national imagery looks to imprint on the user, in a very idealized and colorful way, a sense of pride in one’s origin.

The concept of the exhibition conveys through two languages: visual and spatial; both thoroughly linked to artistic expressions and themes present throughout Mexican Modernism.


The visual language evokes the Estridentismo movement in Mexico; an avant-garde, multidisciplinary and eclectic collective which is considered to be a hallmark of Mexican Modernism, while also directly reminiscing classic pre-Hispanic geometry used in hieroglyphic writing and illustration.


The spatial language evokes Mexican pre-Hispanic architecture, characterized by its perfect symmetry, staggered shapes and massiveness. Pure, legible and isolated geometries create an architectural language that transports us to that one Mexico that inspired the great artists of the past.


Prisms with deep colors frame the artworks and generate a dynamic journey, articulated by expressive monoliths that allow the viewer to travel to the era of ancient Mexican deities.


The curatorship groups the pieces of the exhibition in accordance with the theme and the implicit relationship they have with the subject matter of the section. All segments composing, in terms of intensity in content, a journey in “crescendo”. E+C understand that these groups spark in the spectator feelings that settle them into different “emotional states”.


In a text entitled “A Painter’s Opinion”, Diego Rivera said that in pre-Hispanic Mexico “it was impossible to determine where the sculpture and the painting ended or started, which both formed with the construction itself, a harmonic whole, fully integrated into its aesthetic.”


The Marvelous Real artworks are set under a veiled, transparent, and ethereal intervention that features textiles and textures that give the space a whimsical air and link it to artists’ own expressions of femininity.