Frida and Diego: Shared Lives, Shared Exhibit

Two for the price of one is always a good deal, and in this case the exhibits of arguably the most famous artist duo in the world are also under one roof. The paintings of the Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera adorn the walls of the Centro Cultural in the Palacio La Moneda in Frida y Deigo: Vidas Compartidas ("Frida and Diego: Shared Lives") through February.

Santiago Chile Frida and Diego
Photo courtesy Katie Barkstrom

The exhibits, set on opposite ends of the museum, display the husband and wife's individual art and histories while demonstrating, with photos, quotes and certain paintings, how their lives intertwined.

Santiago, Chile: Frida and Diego

In Frida’s area, the exhibit illustrates a broad view of the life and works of the mysterious artist. While the dominant theme in her work is the pain, both physical and emotional, that she endured in her life, this exhibit also includes lighter aspects such as her wardrobe, photos and less famous portraits of miscellaneous people.

Frida enjoyed wearing the typical attire of the native women from all parts of Mexico, and her brightly colored Mexican wardrobe is displayed in two neat rows at the entrance of the exhibit. The addition of her eclectic wardrobe to the exhibit presents a more concrete image of who Frida was every day--a sharp contrast to the peculiar self-image she portrayed in her paintings.

But a Frida Kahlo exhibit would not be complete without some of the violent and explicit paintings that made her famous. After strolling down aisles adorned with sketches and feminine portraits you are suddenly taken aback by the bloody “Hospital Henry Ford (The Flying Bed),” which illustrates Frida’s painful experience after her miscarriage in Detroit in 1932. Here, a woman is shown lying naked on a bed of bloody sheets, tied with blood lines to things such as a fetus, medical tools, the female reproductive system and a fractured pelvis.

Santiago, Chile: Frida and Diego
Photo courtesy Katie Barkstrom

Across the long white courtyard is her husband Diego Riviera’s exhibit, a completely different world full of landscapes, historical murals and, of course, lots of women. The first part of the exhibit includes his well-known work “Vendedora de Flores" (“Woman selling flowers”), as well as paintings like “America Prehispánico” (“Prehispanic America”) and "Historia de la Religión" ("History of religion"), which illustrate historical accounts of the Spanish conquest over the indigenous peoples of Latin America.

Highlighting Rivera's reputation as a self-proclaimed ladies' man, the last row of the exhibit is naturally dedicated to the many women in his life. Life-sized portraits of his many female “acquaintances” grace the walls of the final corridor, showing his indisputable love for women of all shapes, colors and sizes.

The couple, whose rollercoaster relationship ended with Frida's death in 1954 after 24 years of marriage, shared much more than just a love for art. Written on an exhibit panel, Rivera, who was admittedly unable to be with just one woman, said of his wife: "Tuve la suerte de amar a la mujer más maravillosa que he conocido” ("I was lucky to love the most marvelous woman that I have known").

Frida y Diego: Vidas Compartidas is perfect whether you want to know the couple better or simply to discover them for the first time.

Frida y Diego: Vidas Compartidas
Runs through February 28, 2009
General admission CP$600 (US$.94), students and seniors CP$300
Centro Cultural Palacio Moneda
Plaza de la Ciudadania 26 (between Teatinos and Morandé)
Open daily, 10 am to 8:30 pm
Metro: Universidad de Chile

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