They used to say that behind every great man, is a great woman. Although certainly a valid statement in regards to Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, I’d like to extend that line of thinking out of any feminist debate, because particularly when Kahlo’s name is attached, it’s a road so-traveled that we needn’t go down it again. Instead, let’s focus on what lies at that center of that thought, which while certainly being gender-neutral, is by no means neutral in the success of any artist: support. You can certainly make comment about the support system that Rivera and Kahlo had between themselves as a couple and as artists, but without dwelling on that any longer, it simply brings us to another reinterpretation of what stands behind every great artist, and that’s a great story. So, check and double check for Rivera and Kahlo.
Slightly less often do you see that checklist so dutifully ticked off by art’s collectors, but that’s exactly the case of Natasha and Jacques Gelman. Jacques, a Russian-born Frenchman, became involved in film distribution through the 30s. His work took him to Mexico City in 1939, and upon the outbreak of the war, he found himself stranded there. Natasha, born in what was then called Bohemia, attended schools in Vienna and Switzerland before deciding to travel the world. She had already settled herself in Mexico City when a certain French film distributor found her reading a paper in a hotel garden. With Jacques’ subsequent financial success in Mexican film, the couple had no shortage of funds to purchase art — a shared passion in which they were well known for supporting each other’s opinions. Upon her death in 1998, Natasha bequeathed the entirety of their collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, a gift valued at $300 million.
The relationship between the Gelmans and Rivera and Kahlo began with the commission of a portrait of Natasha by Rivera, but they also purchased from Kahlo at a time when she was very happy to make a sale. The works exhibited in this rare exhibition at Göteborgs Konstmuseum feature many of Kahlo’s best known self portraits and scarcely seen oil paintings by Rivera, as well as a number of drawings, lithographs, collages and photographs.
Be sure to swing by Göteborgs Konstmuseum when in Gothenburg before the 22nd of January 2012 — it’s not just a great chance to see these works in Europe, they might also just bring a little bit of Mexican warmth into your day. Warm and inviting all year round is Hotel Flora, White Line Hotels Edit in Gothenburg.
Photos: Göteborgs Konstmuseum
Like this post? Check out these from our archive!