A Personal Take on Frida
Frieda Kahlo is one of the 20th Century artists on my permanent must see list. I desperately want to visit one of the three major Kahlo-focused exhibits in the US this year.
I became aware of Kahlo’s importance a little later than some and a little earlier than others. Remember please that little old moi, a guerrilla anthropologist, started life as a chicken farmer’s daughter.
I saw the film Pissoir (Urinal) in the late 1980s, I think. This film uses a concept of Kahlo to summarize persecution, fringe behavior necessitated by persecution, and the rabbit hole of “am I watching you or are you watching me?” legal and criminal games that fringe groups and the police have. “My memory of the film seems to be from a time earlier than 1988, but how many movies about subcultures set in a “tea room” with the characters of Sergei Eisenstein, Yukio Mishima, Langston Hughes and of course, Frida Kahlo can there be? Magical realism, bisexuality, folk painting and industrial murals. Yes, her life was complicated.
I’ve had heated discussions with conservative patriarchal types who reduce Kahlo to her Soviet/communist associations, Trotsky, and glorification of a people’s revolution. But revolution is a nearly ubiquitous concept and occurrence in Latin America, and she synthesizes concepts, cultures, times, and states of being with so much more nuance and insight than a common acquaintance with her can convey. It is sad to see such a complex artist commercialized, mass produced, and misunderstood. That is why these exhibits that seem to be curations that delve into distinct anything but routine presentations of her and her creations and possessions should be taken in if at all possible.
This year presents great opportunities to understand at least one woman who shaped and continues to exert influence over our world.
Kahlo Exhibition Specifics
San Francisco: de Young museum
March 21, 2020 – July 26, 2020
“The exhibition features highly personal items, which came to light in 2004 at her lifelong home, La Casa Azul (now Museo Frida Kahlo) in Mexico City—including approximately 30 photographs, 20 vibrant Tehuana costumes from her wardrobe, and personalized braces and prosthetics—alongside paintings and drawings by the artist and photographs reflecting her iconic style.”
Chicago area: Cleve Carney Museum of Art
June 1 – August 31, 2020
Alongside the 26-piece collection is an immersive exhibition that features a multimedia timeline of the artist’s life, a video presentation, reproductions of Kahlo’s clothing and a “poetry garden” designed by Ball Horticultural Company.
Denver Art Museum
October 25, 2020 – January 17, 2021
This Denver Art Museum exhibition, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, in the museum’s Anschutz and Martin & McCormick Galleries will be focused on the post-Mexican Revolution artworks of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and their contemporaries, including Lola Alvarez Bravo, Gunther Gerzso, María Izquierdo and Carlos Mérida.
For all things Kahlo, this Italian site is a great site for past, current, and future: http://www.fridakahlo.it/en/scheda-eventi.php?id=54