Judging from this winter’s Chagall show and next summer’s Picasso exhibition, we’d say the Art Gallery of Ontario is counting on big names to bring in the museum-goers (especially now that its Frank Gehry renovation is no longer a novelty). The latest blockbuster exhibition to be announced features Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, the prolific early-20th-century artists known for their evocative paintings, tempestuous personal lives and passionate political activism. Set to open in October, Frida and Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting will feature 75 of the painters’ key works, mainly drawn from Mexico’s Museo Dolores Olmedo, which houses the world’s largest collection of Kahlo paintings.
The show will include Kahlo’s iconic Hospital Henry Ford (Henry Ford Hospital) and Autorretrato con monos (Self Portrait with Monkeys), along with Rivera’s La canoa enflorada (The Flowered Canoe). Kahlo’s paintings have a fantastic quality that has sometimes seen her labelled a surrealist, but Rivera always maintained that her (and his) inspiration came from reality, not dreams. The paintings selected for the AGO show, for instance, allude to Rivera and Kahlo’s lives, both together and apart, their support for the Communist movement and their identification with Mexico’s indigenous roots. Now, if only we could be painted alongside some monkeys.