The Skeleton Following the Footsteps of Diego and Frida

Museo Dolores Olmedo

The presence of Death in our Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo collections

Death and the Day of the Dead were also represented in the work of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. Frida approached the theme from the duality of life-death, whilst Diego depicted different scenes from daily life, related to it

Diego Rivera
The Museum collection holds 148 of the painter's works

After Frida's death in 1954, the maestro and his amigos visited the island of Janitzio in Michoacán, to see how a celebration of the deceased was enacted. He produced drawings from the journey such as "Day of the Dead in Janitzio" (1954)

In his works he portrayed one of the oldest festivals in Mexico, the Day of the Dead – the celebration of "All Saints" and the "Faithful Departed", on the 1st and 2nd of November

Mexican families visit their departed on these days in November. They believe that the souls become present. The tombs of their loved ones are covered in cempasúchil flowers, as shown in the pastel drawing "Mother with Flowers" (1938).

Typical Mexican food and drink are also placed on the tombs, that had been enjoyed by the deceased, such as sweets, pan de muerto, as well as candles, that illuminated the path towards the ofrenda.

Frida Kahlo
Our collection is the largest in the world with 26 works by the artist

The painter approached death from a different perspective...

The duality, life-death can be observed in several of the artist's paintings, such as the Portrait of Luther Burbank (1931). In this work Frida paints a food chain from which the man draws nourishment from the earth in order to live.

When he died, his body is buried, and as it decomposes, becomes nutrients that nourish the earth and give life again.

The symbols in this artwork are linked to the indigenous belief that, after life on Earth, the soul of men are meant to live in an spiritual space.

In Frida Kahlo paintings, life nurtures from death, in an eternal life circle.

In "The Deceased Dimas" (1937), Frida painted a child dressed as a saint or "little angel", because he died so young that he hasn't committed any sin.

This painting reminds us November 1st, All Saints day, on which Mexicans use to visit the tombs of those children who have died

and decorate it with toys, sweets, cempasúchil (marigold) flowers and any other object that the child liked.

In México, Day of the Dead is not a moment of sorrow but of joy.

Death is not sour, but sweet, such as sugar skulls that can't be left out any Day of the Dead offering. These usually have the name of the dead person whom the Ofrenda is dedicated to, which goes in the forehead of the skull, like in this case of Frida.

Credits: Story

Carlos Phillips Olmedo
Director del Museo Dolores Olmedo

Josefina García
Directora de Colecciones y Servicios Educativos del Museo Dolores Olmedo

Adriana Jaramillo
Directora de Comunicación y Relaciones Institucionales del Museo Dolores Olmedo

Aimee Guzmán García
Coordinadora de Difusión y Contenidos Digitales del Museo Dolores Olmedo

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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