We said “hello” to the fabulous city of Detroit last weekend.  Reason for the journey was to visit the Detroit Institute of Art’s exhibition of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

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Not only could it be a quick trip with not a lot of driving, and a new place to visit, we wanted to support the city which has gone through a lot of pain lately.  We were not disappointed.  Most service people we encountered were very happy.  The city is starting to buzz again.  A lot of smart infrastructure building is under way.  The restaurants are full.

The exhibition was a figurative dance between Frida and Diego.  It was stated that their eleven months in residence while Diego manifested his design in fresco, was the beginning of the end of his career, and the jumping off point for hers.  It must have been so fine working together in the magnificent hall, he expressing his love for the worker and industry, she concentrating on her amazing little detailed symphonies (The detail in her work was more precise than I expected.  It was fully reminiscent of Northern Renaissance detail; think of Jan Van Eyck.).  Her “Henry Ford Hospital” was painted during this time, the spontaneous abortion happening while there.

Visitors to the Detroit Institute of Arts look at the four-wall mural by famed artist Diego Rivera in Detroit, Michigan June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook
Visitors to the Detroit Institute of Arts look at the four-wall mural by famed artist Diego Rivera in Detroit, Michigan June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook


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Above is “Rivera Court” in the Detroit Institute of Art.  The many frescoes are separated by architectural members.  Entitled “Detroit Industry”, the work was paid for by Henry Ford.

Many of the cartoons for the frescoes were on display.  We could see Diego’s mind working as figures were approximated and finally spelled out in a darker line.


Above he is working on the cartoon for one section of the hall.  This section was changed after the loss of the baby.  He commemorated the sad event by including a baby in the womb as the beginning of all of man’s wondrous achievements.

We entered the exhibition space and saw this:


The exhibition space prior to entering the great hall alternated between Diego’s early panel paintings and cartoons, and Frida’s small works.  Detroit had a lot of the most famous works there.

Kahlo 1

“Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair”

kahlo 2

“A Few Small Nips”  The blood from the murder of the wife by the husband is reflected on the frame.  I had not remembered this.

kahlo 4

“Self-portrait on the Borderline between Mexico and the United States”  1932

kahol 4

“The Suicide of Dorothy Hale”.  Again, interesting treatment of the frame in regard to the content of the work.

kahlo 5

And, of course, “Henry Ford Hospital”.

There were many more, and also earlier panel paintings by Diego.

This exhibition is over, as of yesterday.  Something else will be shown in that space, but the DIA is full of wonderful stuff.  I realized before we left that we would see this:


Pieter Brueghel’s “Wedding Dance”, one of my favorites, for pedagogical and sexual reasons!

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