The Detroit Institute of Arts and several Metro Detroit arts organizations will celebrate Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo next year in a series of events focused on the famed art couple's time in Detroit.
Kahlo's inclusion in the exhibit - she lived in Detroit while Rivera created the DIA's "Detroit Industry" mural in its Rivera Court - could draw some star power to the celebration. Madonna, who was born in Bay City and raised in Pontiac and Rochester Hills, recently played up her connection to Detroit, is a well-known collector and passionate fan of Kahlo's work, often speaking publicly on the painter's impact on her life.
Madonna's passionate support of Kahlo, combined with her Detroit ties, leads to speculation the pop star could play a role in next year's exhibit. A DIA spokesperson acknowledged last week that Madonna is a known collector of Kahlo's works. However, no announcement from the DIA or the singer herself has been made to include her paintings in the collection.
Several attempts by MLive.com to reach Madonna's publicist Liz Rosenberg, to gauge her client's interest in selling or loaning part of her Kahlo collection to the DIA, were unsuccessful.
But Madonna has appeared to have a renewed interest in Detroit, its charities and efforts to overcome bankruptcy. Less than two month ago, she agreed to help fund three organizations in the city including a youth boxing gym.
Work displayed by Rivera and Kahlo, best known for her self-portraits, should make for one of the most popular DIA exhibits in recent memory. It be held March 15 to July 12. Kahlo is arguably the most famous woman painter of all time, and was even portrayed by Selma Hayek in the 2002 movie, "Frida."
Madonna's has said often publicly that Kahlo is an inspiration to her, and she reportedly wanted to play the role of Kahlo in "Frida" before Hayek received it.
She even wrote last fall in an essay for Harper's Bazaar that Kahlo's mustache in her self-portrait helped her tackle living in New York city.
An excerpt from the essay:
“Sometimes I would play the victim and cry in my shoe box of a bedroom with a window that faced a wall, watching the pigeons s*** on my windowsill. And I wondered if it was all worth it,” she wrote.
“But then I would pull myself together and look at a postcard of Frida Kahlo taped to my wall, and the sight of her mustache consoled me. Because she was an artist who didn’t care what people thought. I admired her.
She was daring. People gave her a hard time. Life gave her a hard time. If she could do it, then so could I.”
It's unclear exactly how many Kahlo paintings Madonna owns, but the website FridaKahloFans.com says she owns Kahlo's 1940 "Self Portrait with Monkey."
The reported sale price for that painting: a cool $1 million.
Rivera lived with Kahlo in Detroit in the early 1930s and painted the two iconic Detroit Industry murals that are displayed inside the DIA's main entrance. During that same time, Kahlo had a miscarriage at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, a life event she painted in "Henry Ford Hospital."
Rivera died Nov. 24, 1957 at the age of 70 in Mexico City; Kahlo was 47 when she died July 13, 1954 in Mexico City.
The DIA's exhibit next spring will coincide with an opera about Kahlo's life performed at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts in Clinton Township March 7-8.
Subsequent performances will be held March 21-22 at the Berman Center for the Performing Arts in West Bloomfield and March 28 at the DIA's Detroit Film Theatre, 5200 Woodward Ave. in Detroit.
For more information, visit the opera's website.