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Frida & Diego have left the building

January 29th, 2013

The ofrenda honouring Frida and Diego that was located at the end of the exhibition.













Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics & Painting, the sizzling exhibition that recently made its only Canadian stop at the AGO, drew 186,849 visitors during its 13-week run from Oct. 20, 2012 to Jan. 20, 2013.

Hailed as a “showstopper” by Toronto Life and “a must-see” by the Toronto Star, the exhibition also got a lot of people excited about visiting us: over the course of Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics & Painting, thousands of people signed up for AGO memberships and all the accompanying benefits.

Due to the enthusiastic response from GTA residents and visitors to our fair city, we extended the hours of Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics & Painting during its final days to give visitors one last chance to get acquainted with the first couple of Mexican modernism and their incredible work.

Special promotions related to the exhibition were popular too. Thousands of diners at FRANK restaurant, caféAGO and the brand new Galleria Italia Café enjoyed Mexican-inspired fare, designed by executive chef Anne Yarymowich and chef de cuisine Jay Tanuwidjaja. Retail sales at shopAGO were also strong, with catalogue sales exceeding expectation and selling out well in advance of the exhibition closing.

Visitors of all ages made contributions at the exhibition’s ofrenda, a traditional Mexican tribute to Frida and Diego designed by artist Carlomagno Pedro Martínez. Click here to view the ofrenda’s progress over the exhibition’s run.

It takes a lot to bring an exhibition of this calibre to the AGO, and we’re grateful to Scotiabank, Gretchen & Donald Ross, Scott & Krystyne Griffin, Valerie Greenfield & Hunter Thompson, the Globe and Mail, GO Transit, the Government of Canada, the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund and the Government of Ontario for their generous support. Thank you!

Co-organized by the AGO, the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and the Museo Dolores Olmedo in Mexico City, Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting travels next to Atlanta where it will open at the High Museum on Feb. 16, 2013. We hope the people of Georgia enjoy this extraordinary experience as much as we did!

An introduction to Frida, Naturaleza Viva (1983) at the AGO (podcast)

January 18th, 2013

Film poster for Frida, Naturaleza Viva

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Download 27.6 MB MP3

Recorded: Jan. 9, 2013 in Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario
Duration: 40:15

Mauricio Toussaint, Consul General of Mexico in Toronto, and Dot Tuer, guest curator of Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting at the AGO, introduce a free screening of the 1983 Mexican film Frida, Naturaleza Viva (1983), directed by Paul Leduc with Ofelia Medina as Frida and painter Juan José Gurrola as Diego. They discuss the artists and their iconic status and how the film represents their lives, their time and their art. The recording ends with a Q&A with the audience.

The screening was presented in partnership with Consulate General of Mexico in Toronto, as part of the programming for the AGO’s Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting.

A fond goodbye to the Frida & Diego ofrenda

January 17th, 2013

As Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting draws to a close, we want to thank everyone who left pieces of their hearts and minds behind and together made the ofrenda a deeply meaningful part of the exhibition.

Since Mexican artist Carlomagno Pedro Martínez installed this tribute to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at the end of October, AGO visitors have been contributing their thoughts, wishes and memories to the ofrenda. Some have left paper flowers, others notes to one of the artists or both — one visitor even paid homage to the artists and their heritage with a family photo.

Here is the ofrenda shortly after Carlomagno constructed it (late October 2012):

Here it is a month later (late November 2012):

And this is what the ofrenda looked like this week (Jan. 16, 2013):

What’s next?

After the exhibition closes, the ceramic pieces of the ofrenda will go back to Carlomagno. AGO staff will catalogue all of the notes and objects that our visitors contributed to the ofrenda, and they will archive some of them as a testament to the project.

Frida Kahlo: Her Life and Art (podcast)

January 16th, 2013

Hayden Herrera

Click to play:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Download 55.4 MB MP3

Recorded: Dec. 6, 2012, in the The Anne Tanenbaum Gallery School, Art Gallery of Ontario
Duration: 1:20:48

In this talk, Hayden Herrera interweaves Kahlo’s biography and her painting. She discusses Kahlo’s turning to painting after her bus accident at age 18, her difficult marriage to muralist Diego Rivera and its effect on her imagery, her childlessness and her numerous surgical operations and how she dealt with them in her self-portraits.

Hayden Herrera is an art historian and biographer of Frida Kahlo. She has lectured widely, curated several exhibitions of art, taught Latin American art at New York University and has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her books include Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo; Mary Frank; and Matisse: A Portrait. She is working on a critical biography of Isamu Noguchi. She lives in New York City.

This talk was presented as part of the AGO’s programming for Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting. Click here to see our upcoming art talks and symposia.

December #ArtHour: Join us and curator Dot Tuer for a Frida & Diego Twitter chat

December 6th, 2012

On Thursday, Dec. 13, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., we’re teaming up with Dot Tuer, guest curator of Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting for an hour-long online discussion about Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and their work. We hope you’ll take part!

Our visitors have a lot to say about Frida & Diego since its opening on Oct. 20, 2012; they tell us on comment cards, they talk to our staff and they post their thoughts on our Facebook page and on Twitter. We want to hear from you! On Thursday, Dec. 13, we’re inviting everyone who has something to say about Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera — their lives, their work and how it moves us — to join us on Twitter for a discussion with Dot Tuer, OCAD University professor, cultural historian and guest curator of Frida & Diego at the AGO.

We hope you’ll add your thoughts to a discussion centred on the following questions:

Q1 What tells us more about Frida and Diego’s lives together — photos of them or their art?
Q2 Is politics as important for art now as it was in Frida and Diego’s time?
Q3 What is the main reason for Frida’s popularity today?
Q4 Besides the current exhibition, what are the best sources of info on Frida and Diego?
Q5 Who are your favourite artist couples besides Frida and Diego?
Q6 Who is the better painter — Frida or Diego? Why?

The person who contributes the most to this month’s #ArtHour will win a pair of passes to Frida & Diego (before Dec. 23, 2012), as well as a copy of the book Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting, edited by Dot Tuer and Elliott King.

Nice To Tweet You


What #ArtHour is a Twitter chat with a new art topic each month. We invite you to spend one hour each month thinking about and sharing what art really means to you.
When Thursday, Dec. 13, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m. EST (takes place the second Thursday of every month).
Where On Twitter. Follow @agotoronto for questions and answers from Dot Tuer, or search for the hashtag #ArtHour. You can follow along using Tweetchat by using the #ArtHour hashtag.
Who #ArtHour is for everyone: galleries and museums, arts professionals, artists and anyone interested in learning more and meeting other passionate art fans.
How Starting at 2 p.m. @agotoronto will be tweeting a question every 10 minutes using the hashtag #ArtHour. Anyone can respond, also using #ArtHour. For example, we would tweet Q1 What is your favourite painting? #ArtHour, and you could tweet back A1 The West Wind by Tom Thomson! #ArtHour.

We hope that you’ll help spread the word and join us for our December #ArtHour. For more information, please email

Anatomy of an ofrenda

December 5th, 2012

Click on a number here to skip to an element: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

Chloe Sayer, a U.K. writer who specializes in Mexican art and culture, interviewed Carlomagno Pedro Martínez about the ofrenda he created in honour of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at the AGO in October 2012, and Carlomagno outlined the ofrenda’s various elements and their meanings. In this post, we present his detailed descriptions, illustrated with photos of the ofrenda taken in late November. Read the rest of this entry »

Honouring Frida & Diego

November 21st, 2012

An ofrenda created by Carlomagno Pedro Martínez in honour of Frida and Diego.

How do you remember friends and family who have died? In Mexico, the deceased are honoured on the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), which occurs on Nov. 1 and 2 every year. One of the traditions associated with this holiday is the construction of an altar called an ofrenda. Friends and relatives build ofrendas in homes, offices and cemeteries to honour the departed with personal offerings, such as favourite foods, drinks and yellow marigolds known by their Aztec name of zempoaxochitl (meaning “flowers of death”).

We invited Mexican artist Carlomagno Pedro Martínez to construct this ofrenda in the Honey & Barry Sherman Gallery (Gallery 246, on the second level) to honour Frida and Diego, and for you to make your own offerings to honour the memories of these two great artists.

Detailed views of Carlomagno Pedro Martínez’s ofrenda in the AGO

Two ways you can contribute to the ofrenda:

Letters to Frida and Diego
In her diary, Frida Kahlo expressed both her happiness and sadness. She filled her pages with words and images about thoughts and feelings. We encourage visitors to use the paper and pencils provided in the space to write their own thoughts and feelings about Frida, Diego or the exhibition, or bring pre-written notes, and place them on the ofrenda to honour the artists’ memories.

Colourful Rememberances
Flowers, especially zempoaxochitl (marigolds), adorn the ofrenda. The bright orange flowers are used to make paths so that spirits of loved ones will see their way home. Making colourful paper zempoaxochitl is a tradition in Mexico for Día de los Muertos. We provide the materials and detailed instructions you need to create tissue-paper flowers on-site!

About Carlomagno Pedro Martínez
Carlomagno Pedro Martínez, born Oaxaca, Mexico in 1965, is a Mexican artist who creates ceramic sculptures based on his interpretation of Mexican legends and local Oaxacan traditions. The ceramics are made in the tradition of Barro Negro, a firing technique that produces a black surface. His work is held by several North American museums including the Gardiner Museum in Toronto. Martínez is currently the director of the Museo Estatal de Arte Popular de Oaxaca, a museum dedicated to exhibiting handcrafts of the state of Oaxaca.

Our director of marketing weighs in on the Frida unibrow debate

November 20th, 2012

This morning CBC’s Q hosted a debate that centred on a three-day marketing promotion for our exhibition Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting. Guest host Jim Brown read part of the statement below on the air, but we wanted to share the full text here. We thank everyone who has participated in this lively discussion about Frida Kahlo and her work. Read the rest of this entry »

Frida and Diego press preview: social media highlights

October 17th, 2012

The Art Gallery of Ontario welcomed nearly 100 guests to our media preview of Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting on Oct. 16, 2012. Amid the interviews, filming, note-taking and photo snapping, there was a lot of tweeting going on (and a bit of Instagramming too). Click through to see social media highlights from the event. Read the rest of this entry »

Uncrating Frida Kahlo’s Autorretrato con Changuito (1945)

September 26th, 2012

Each work that arrives at the AGO for a special exhibition like Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting gets VIP treatment from our staff. The process involves a lot more than taking a work out of a crate and hanging it on the wall — transporting valuable pieces is an art in itself, and each person involved is responsible for keeping them safe and sound. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the uncrating and inspection of Frida Kahlo’s Autorretrato con Changuito (1945) on Sept. 25, 2012. Read the rest of this entry »