Sponsored by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, at the V&A from 16 June - 18 November 2018, vam.ac.uk/FridaKahlo
The summer has certainly come to an end, you can feel it in the icy chill of the air, see it in the burnt orange leaves that carpet the pavements and feel the steam swirling up from hot coffee cups. But the V&A has brought the heat and vivacity of Mexico with their incredible new exhibition on the life of the artist, Frida Kahlo.
This collection, which features an array of Kahlo’s belongings, had been locked away for 50 years after the artist’s death and has never before been exhibited outside Mexico. The V&A described the exhibition as “a fresh perspective on Kahlo's compelling life story through her most intimate personal belongings”.
Kahlo’s belongings are showcased alongside her paintings and sketches to demonstrate how the artist constructed her identity. From her prosthetic leg, her corsets, her clothing and her cosmetics, we were able to see how she faced the world. Kahlo displayed her extremely unique style with her innovative and extraordinary jewellery and her mix of European and Mexican clothing. These items align with modern interpretations of the artist’s life, portraying the way she composed herself not only for her father’s photographs but also for her own self portraits which show her in traditional Mexican dress. It uncovers how Kahlo took control of the way she presents herself as a woman and an artist.
Kahlo’s creativity and outlook were inspired by Mexico’s popular culture. Her art and fashion reflected a folk art style which asked questions surrounding identity, post-colonialism, gender, class, and race in Mexican society. Her paintings have strong autobiographical elements and mixed realism with fantasy, which the exhibition unwrapped by juxtaposing object and image, exploring Kahlo’s reality through her belongings.
By the early 1990s, after her death, Kahlo had become a recognisable figure in art history as well as also an icon for Mexican culture, the Feminism movement, and the LGBTQ movement. Kahlo's work has been celebrated internationally as emblematic of Mexican national and Indigenous traditions, and by feminists for what is seen as its uncompromising depiction of the female experience and form.
You can visit the exhibition at the V&A until 18th November 2018, vam.ac.uk/FridaKahlo