It's difficult to rival the interesting political, social, and artistic lives of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. However, somehow the Nelson-Atkins Museum presented a dull interpretation of them and their inner circle in the show Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Masterpieces of Modern Mexico.
Perhaps the shallow interpretation of the over 100 works is the curator's choice to adhere the taste of the Gelman's, patrons to Rivera and Kahlo and other artists working in Mexico. In any case, the show is a missed opportunity for what is touted as the Nelson's "vibrant" and "festive" blockbuster show.
Although we are by no means a Kahlo or Rivera expert, we learned nothing new from the show. This in part is because of the weak information on cards presented with each work; we had the feeling that the curators of the show got lazy with the presentation. Instead of providing insight into Kahlo, Rivera, or any of their fellow Mexican artists, exhibitors chose to include comments from students from an area elementary school beside the information cards. In one painting containing a portrait of a woman getting married in traditional wedding attire, a third grader wrote "......there is a hammock in the background. Maybe they could take a nap." Indeed, we felt like napping when we visited the show.
We did like aspects of the show. Iconic Kahlo self-portraits (worthy of staring contests), range in style of Rivera, and the courteous Nelson employees are positives. Also, it seemed unusual, and refreshing, to hear Spanish speakers in the galleries at the Nelson.