Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modern Art

Catalogue design for an exhibition at the Nova Southeastern University Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale.
A true power couple and two of the 20th century's most celebrated artists, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera helped develop Mexican modernism, a movement that combined social realism and surrealistic imagery in paintings and murals that shaped Mexico's cultural heritage. Over fifty years after their deaths, the pair continue to fascinate. Pentagram has designed the catalogue for Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: Mexican Modern Art, a new exhibition currently on view at the Nova Southeastern University Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale that explores these famous figures and the other artists who defined the movement.
The show brings together works from the world-renowned Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection and major works by Mexican modern artists collected by Stanley and Pearl Goodman of Fort Lauderdale, who recently donated more than 75 works by Latin American artists to NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale. (The show’s full title is Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera From the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection & 20th Century Mexican Art From the Stanley and Pearl Goodman Collection.) In addition to works by Kahlo and Rivera, the exhibition features paintings, sculptures and works on paper by Lenora Carrington, Jose Clemente Orozco, David Siquieros and Rufino Tamayo, among many others.
The designers created a bold, contemporary design for the catalogue that highlights the beauty and immediacy of the works while also paying tribute to their heritage. The front and back cover features portraits of Kahlo and Rivera (by Kahlo), positioning the pair as icons of the movement. Color is key to the book, with the vibrant hues of the paintings and Mexican folk art echoed in bright blasts of color that open each section. (The distinctive blue of the cover references Casa Azul, Kahlo and Rivera’s home in Mexico City.) The book is divided into three portfolios—the first focuses on Kahlo and Rivera, followed by the two art collections—with each represented by a different color.
A clean, elegant layout gives prominence to the artwork and lets it breathe on the page. The designers devised a system for integrating image references throughout the book. In a reversal of the typical catalogue format, each section opens with a complete list of the featured works. Additional thumbnails are keyed to references in essay text, with notations for where to find the full reproductions in the book.
The book is set entirely in GT Sectra, a contemporary serif font that "combines the calligraphy of the broad nib pen with the sharpness of the scalpel knife,” in the words of the font's designers, Marc Kappeler and Dominik Huber of Moiré and Noël Leu of Grilli Type. In the catalogue, the typeface is both brash and beautiful, echoing the art and the modernist movement in Mexico.
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: Mexican Modern Art is out now from Skira Rizzoli. 

Team Credits

Eddie Opara

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  • Partner at Pentagram
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    MoMa

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