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Detroit Institute of Arts planning exhibition devoted to year Rivera and Kahlo spent in city

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DETROIT - Visitors to the Detroit Institute of Arts can't help but learn all about the famed Detroit Industry murals that Diego Rivera created on the museum's walls.

Not nearly as well-known is how the muralist and his wife, Frida Kahlo, spent their year in Detroit while Rivera completed his masterpiece.

The Detroit Institute of Arts is planning an exhibition for next year that focuses on the period between April 1932 and March 1933, which the museum refers to as "a pivotal turning point in each artist's career."

Most of the works Kahlo created in Detroit will be shown for the first time in the city, the DIA said in a news release Monday.

The show, which is scheduled to run from March 15, 2015, through July 12, 2015, will feature 80 artworks, including Rivera's preparatory drawings for the Detroit Industry murals.

"Not shown in almost 30 years, these magnificent works demonstrate Rivera's sweeping narrative ambition, envisioned as a synthesis between Mexico's spiritual values and United States' industrial might," the DIA release said.

The High Museum of Art in Atlanta presented an exhibition last year that was the largest ever to show the celebrated Mexican artists' work together. Rivera and Kahlo were married for nearly 25 years, but their art rarely is shown together because of the perceived contrasts in their styles.

The scope of the DIA's exhibition "is definitely narrower," spokeswoman Pam Marcil said.

"We're focusing on how important Detroit was for both of their careers. Frida largely defined her style here. Detroit is where she found her voice. Diego created what he thought was his greatest work," she said.

The Detroit show also is showing off items not available elsewhere, such as Rivera's Detroit Industry conceptual drawings as well as the murals themselves.

In addition, the exhibition will present photographs of the couple at both work and play.

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