Frida Kahlo Exhibit

Frida Kahlo Exhibition London


“I am my own muse. I am the subject I know best. The subject I want to better.”

― Frida Kahlo

Over the past several years, my obsession with Frida Kahlo has exponentially increased.  It began when I attended the Frida exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum in Londn.   This exhibition was the fuel of multiple other exhibitions. A Frida Movement has emerged. Now one can’t travel to a town without seeing Frida images to be stocked throughout the world’s stores via clothing, pillowcases, books, and other paraphernalia.  What is it about Frida that is so fascinating?  

            Making Her Self Up was the title of the London exhibit.  We know and love Frida for how she embraced her looks… the eyebrows, moustache, dark hair, culture.  Her art work which usually contained images of herself is recognizable, and I feel she is one of the few women in the art world who was known as an icon.  This was not just for her paintings, but how she presented herself.  Digging a little deeper below the surface, she encompassed so much more.  

Why Frida is a Feminist Icon


Frida is everywhere these days.  She has become a feminine archetype: the tortured rebellious artist whose struggles fuel her art.  Frida did not set out to have “followers,” she created beauty for the sake of her own enjoyment.  At the same time, her visual vulnerability still tightens one’s womb.  You can observe the details of her miscarriages, the affairs, grief,  her political opinions, and her metaphorical and literal medical cages. 

Frida struggled with physical ailments such as a polio diagnosis in her youth, a horrendous traffic accident that kept her bed ridden for one year, numerous miscarriages, and eventually she had her foot amputated.  Despite the struggles she physically faced in her life, she prevailed.  In fact, her interest in art and creating self-portraits may have been ignited during that year of being bed ridden.  Her mother did not want her to be alone, therefore she propped a mirror above her bed so she could always be aware of the company she had within herself. 



What is Frida Kahlo Famous For?

Kahlo embraced all parts of her, the wounded and the blessed.  The images in her artwork contains flashbacks to the tragedies that ensued in her life.  The numerous affairs her husband had (which included sleeping with her sister), did not dissipate her sexuality.  She had her share of affairs as well.  But the love of Diego Rivera, her husband, stayed in her mind and thoughts.  Initially as a wife to renowned muralist and artist Diego, she accompanied him to his work sites around the world. 

            Frida brought attention to the fashion her culture offered.  The beautiful traditional clothing of the Mexican world was displayed throughout each city she graced.  She wore long petticoats initially to hide her leg that was impacted by polio, but when she eventually ended up having her leg amputated, even her prosthetics were fashionable.  The medical corsets were beautified.  Frida would dress up at home, even if there were no visitors.  She would adorn her body with necklaces, earrings, and flowers in her hair not for anyone else’s enjoyment but herself. 

What is Frida Known For?

Eventually her art work began to get recognized.  She was no longer just the wife of Diego or a fashion icon.  She was an artist.   The Surrealists wanted to claim her as their own, but she verbalized she wasn’t a surrealist.  “I never painted dreams.  I painted my own reality.”

            The reason Frida’s image is embraced by women throughout the world is not solely for her physical beauty.  It is for what she represents: confidence, resilience, courage, and strength.  Frida did not have an alter ego.  She was her own alter ego.  It is no surprise the exhibit at Victoria & Albert Museum was a sold out hit.  We admire her fury to be authentic, and live the totality of human existence.  Frida presented herself to the world boldly each day, and generations later her image is representative of how we went to present ourselves to the world.  How can we mirror her authentic loud nature in our own lives? 

            I admit that fifteen years ago, I visited her home in Mexico City.  Although I was aware of her art, her work didn’t resonate with me as much as it does today.  Perhaps it’s because I didn’t realize that the atmospheric pull to her is not just about her art, but who she was as a woman and human being.  Her home Casa Azul has become a pilgrimage for her followers, but there are other options for those who may not have the financial means to go to Mexico City.  Go to a travelling art exhibit that has features her work and belongings.  Although the exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum ended, it has continued throughout various parts of the world.  

Frida Kahlo Paris

Most recently, I was able to visit a similar rotating exhibition in Paris at the Palais Galliera.  The collection contains photographs, jewelry, artwork, belongings, medical corsets and clothing that were hidden for 50 years.  When the London exhibit premiered, it was the first time her belongings were on display outside of Mexico City.  In addition, this particular exhibit showcased numerous other fashion designers homage to Frida in their previous collections.

  If you are Frida fanatic like I am, this is a must. I even attended an immersive art experience featuring her life and her work in Chicago this past summer. In this exhibit, her work is displayed not just on the walls, but also floors, ceilings, and ourselves.  We are living in her world of vibrancy, color, pain, sorrow, and passion.  We can imagine that we are seeing the world through her eyes, and isn’t this is what pilgrimage is about?  To explore the world through a new perspective? 

“Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?” – Frida Kahlo

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