Celebrated artist’s life revealed through personal photographs on display at Artisphere.
By Michael M. Clements
Break out the uni-brows – the photographs of painter Frida Kahlo are being exhibited for the first time in America. The show at the Artisphere in Arlington runs from February 23rd to March 25th. This exhibition portrays a more intimate side of the painter thanks to 259 images that are part of her personal collection– a bounty which includes 6,500 photographs, all of which have been hidden from the public for almost half a century.
Mexican painter Frida Kahlo is a global icon. After she died in 1954, all of her 6,500 personal photographs became property of her husband, painter Diego Rivera. They were kept in storage until 2007. Now available for viewing, the photographs provide a rare glimpse into her personal life, showing her interests and interactions with people close to her. Some are even accompanied with notes and traces of her lipstick.
This collection further sheds light on connections with famous friends and individuals she admired from afar such as Russian Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky; American photographers Edward Weston; Charles Sheeler, Alfred Stieglitz and Tina Modotti; Mexican revolutionary general Emiliano Zapata; American artists Georgia O’Keeffe and Ione Robinson; and actress Dolores del Río. There are also images of her lovers, American sculptor Isamu Noguchi and American photographer Nickolas Muray.
“This amazing selection of photos provides an exciting and rare opportunity to get a personal glimpse into one of Mexico’s most internationally renowned artists; the Embassy of Mexico and its Cultural Institute are delighted to partner with Artisphere to bring the exhibition to Arlington.” says Alejandra Paz, the Cultural Attache of Mexico to the United States.
Frida was born into a household of a Mexican mother and a father of mixed Hungarian and German ancestry. She was a lifelong resident of the Mexico City suburb – and Arlington, VA sister city – Coyoacán. Kahlo grew up during the Mexican Revolution, survived polio, and was in a bus accident that left her in a full body cast for three months with permanent injuries and the inability to have children. After creating paintings while recovering from the bus injury, Kahlo sought out Rivera’s opinion as to whether she should continue to pursue an art career. Their relationship grew and they married in 1929. Their residence, Casa Azul (Blue House) is now the Frida Kahlo Museum.
The Artisphere exhibition is produced in collaboration with the Frida Kahlo Museum, the Embassy of Mexico, the Mexican Cultural Institute and Arlington County. The photographs are arranged into six thematic areas that align with periods in her life: The Origins, The Blue House, The Broken Body, Loves, Photography and Diego’s Eye. These photographs come from the collection of the Frida Kahlo Museum, Coyoacán, Mexico. They are reproductions of the original photographs owned by the Frida Kahlo Museum and Banco de México, Fiduciary in the Trust of the Museums Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.