Frida Kahlo’s Latest Art Exhibit Is Coming To The U.S. During A Time We Sorely Need It

credit: fridakahlo / Instagram

There’s no doubt that Frida Kahlo is one of the most influential Mexican artists to ever pick up a paintbrush. Innovative, avant-garde and never one to conform to society’s expectations, Kahlo has become a symbol for boss women everywhere. With a personal style that was just as captivating as her surrealist artwork, Kahlo was the epitome of artistic expression. Soon Kahlo enthusiasts will get a more intimate look into her life than ever before.

In 2019, the largest Frida Kahlo collection to come to the US in ten years will open at Brooklyn Museum.

Named Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving, the show will feature more than just the artist’s greatest works. For the first time since their re-discovery in 2004, Kahlo’s personal clothing and accessories will be on display in the U.S. as well. This is a monumental addition as these possessions haven’t been seen since her 1954 death. Additionally, they’ve never been shown in the United States at all before this exhibit.

These items were sealed in the artist’s Casa Azul, the Mexico City home of Kahlo and husband Diego Rivera. The couple instructed their estate to not disclose these items to the public until 15 years after Rivera’s death.

The collection features such items as her pre-Colonial jewelry and Tehuana-inspired clothing. Evidence of her life as a disabled woman will also be displayed. Kahlo’s hand-painted corsets, back braces, and other prosthetics embody huge parts of her everyday life.

These treasures are being curated alongside paintings, drawings, and photographs from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of 20th Century Mexican Art. The exhibit will run from February 8th through May 12th, 2019.

The cultural significance of this collection is especially relevant in the current political climate.

It’s been a tough year for the Latinidad. We’ve endured ICE raids, racist attacks by bigoted civilians and rampant cultural appropriation. Kahlo’s love for her Mexican identity is the act of self-love and a political protest we need right now. The way Kahlo presented herself to the world was a conscious act. She came of age in the 20’s Flapper Era, but she readily rejected the Americanized style of beauty society demanded. The divide between societal expectations and Kahlo personal identity is especially evident in her 1939 painting The Two Fridas.

Instead of short, flouncy skirts and bobbed haircuts, Kahlo embraced the fashion of her home country. The matriarchal society of Tehuantepec was the inspiration for her long, brightly embroidered dresses and signature braided hairdo.

She was a fan of bold jewelry that utilized material native to Mexico. Beaded jewelry and turquoise accessories were layered with every one of her signature outfits. However, it wasn’t unusual to see her wearing gaudy trinkets as well—namely the pair of hand earrings gifted to her by her friend, Pablo Picasso.

Kahlo’s indifference to beauty trends was especially evident in her most memorable feature.

During her time, facial hair was not an acceptable look for women. Kahlo’s bold brow, dark sideburns, and slight upper lip hair were a slap in the face at conventionality. In fact, it’s rumored that she occasionally darkened these features. Kahlo’s life as a disabled woman was a big part of her identity. She didn’t shy away from her injuries. Instead, they were focal points of her art, such as with her 1944 piece The Broken ColumnWhen she was 18, Kahlo broke her spine, collarbone, leg, foot, pelvis, and ribs in an accident. She spent months in a full body cast and lived with permanent disabilities all her life.

The casts, braces, and corsets she’d wear from that day forward became an extension of herself. As such, she made them her own by making them masterpieces. Even after she lost a leg to gangrene, Kahlo crafted a prosthesis with a bright red boot and golden bell.

Kahlo’s way of dressing was a declaration of her heritage, priorities and beliefs.

During a trip to America while Rivera was painting his mural in Rockefeller Center, she created her piece My Dress Hangs ThereThe piece depicts one of her traditional dresses superimposed on a jumbled canvas of New York imagery. Though she had left her home, she was still Frida; Mexicana through and through.

Growing up in a home that inspired free thinking, intellectualism and the rejection of capitalism, Kahlo was raised to be a free thinker. The spirited way she chose to present herself as she became a public figure shows a woman who didn’t care about what others saw. Her goal was authenticity. That’s why she is still remembered as the iconic Latina she was so long after her death.


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