Dolores Olmedo Patino was an exceptional Mexican woman who in the 1920s and 30s forged a lucrative career as General Manager of a real estate development and construction company. Her skills as a businesswoman were complemented by her love of music, the arts and artists. She was an accomplished musician and her philanthropy toward the arts legendary.
Olmedo first met painter and muralist Diego Rivera at the age of 17. She was immediately attracted to the passionate and politically active artist but did not become romantically involved with him until many years later. By then Rivera had been to Spain to study and had lived in Paris where he counted Picasso, Braque and Modigliani his friends. He had also abandoned his first wife, the painter Angelina Beloff, and married painter, Frida Khalo.
Upon their return to Mexico, Rivera and Khalo continued to share their passion for each other and for Mexico’s revolutionary culture and became one of the most prolific and politically charged couples of the 20th century. “He painted for the people; she painted to survive”. Rivera turned to painting oversized murals “to reflect the life of Mexico as I saw it and through my vision of the truth to show the masses the outline of the future”.
Dolores Olmedo, having been married and divorced three times, and the single mother of four children continued her success in business as well as a close relationship with Rivera. She was, at one time or another, his model, patron and mistress. Olmedo was not close to Kahlo, regarding her as competition for Rivera. Nevertheless she supported them both throughout their lives. Following Kahlo’s death, Rivera spent his remaining years with Olmedo and named her administrator of his and Kahlo’s estates.
When Rivera died in 1957 Olmedo decided to turn her 17th century hacienda, La Noria, in Xochimilco, a southern suburb of Mexico City, into a museum dedicated to the works of Rivera, Kahlo and Angelina Beloff as well as a showcase for her vast collection of pre-Hispanic, colonial, folk, modern and contemporary art. Upon Olmedo’s death in 2002, the museum was opened to the public.
The museum houses 144 works by Rivera, 25 by Frida Kahlo and 37 by Angelina Beloff. The Riveras include early works, beginning at the age of 10, portraits and paintings from his Impressionist and Cubist periods in Paris. The paintings reflect both the dramatic stories of Rivera and Kahlo’s lives together and “their artistic commitment to the transformative political and cultural values of post-revolutionary Mexico, influenced by both Mexican and Russian revolutions”.
The Museo Dolores Almedo occupies five buildings on eight acres of magnificent gardens through which wander peacocks and xoloitzcuintli dogs, a friendly, hairless pre-Columbian Mexican breed.
Hours: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM Tuesday – Sunday
Address: Museo Dolores Olmedo, La Noria, Xochimilco 16030 Mexico City
Telephone: 01 55 5555 1221 Website: www.museodoloresolmedo.org.mx