Frida’s Intimate Life Displayed in London

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Frida Kahlo on Rooftop, New York, 1946, through the lens of Nicholas Murray

Frida Kahlo’s red-leather-booted prosthetic leg, along with some of her portraits, photographs, clothing, jewelry, and cosmetics, will travel for the first time outside her native country, Mexico, for “Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up” exhibition opening on June 16 at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

More than 200 of the artist’s personal items that have been tucked away for half a century in La Casa Azul (The Blue House), on Mexico City’s outskirts, where iconic late artist and activist Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón lived with her husband Mexican painter and muralist Diego Riviera, will offer visitors a fresh perspective on her captivating life story. After her early death at the age of 47 in 1954, her husband Diego Rivera locked up her intimate possessions in a room inside their “Blue House” and instructed the items to be showcased only after his death, which finally occurred in 2004.

Through “Frida: Kahlo Making Herself Up” exhibition, London’s V&A in cooperation with Mexico’s Museo Frida Kahlo will reveal the ways one of the most talented women of the 20th century constructed her identity and choreographed her distinctive style and appearance.

Frida Kahlo House, Mexico City
Frida Kahlo’s Blue House (currently Museo Frida Kahlo) in Mexico City

In addition to the Mexican artist’s paintings, photographs of her husband Diego Riviera and her close-knit group of friends, such as André Breton, and Leon Trotsky, as well as several super-bright photographs taken of her by American-Hungarian photographer Nickolas Muray, the V&A’ s brilliant show will include several other items of unique interest.

Frida Kahlo was just 18 years old when a terrible bus accident changed her life forever leaving her handicapped and burdened with lifelong medical problems and chronic pain. Included in the show are several surgical hand-painted plaster corsets that the artist used to alleviate her pain and a prosthetic leg with a red leather boot and Chinese-inspired embroidery.

Visitors will have the opportunity to see 22 colorful and paint-splashed Tehuana garments and pre-Columbian necklaces that Frida wore. Furthermore, one of the “Ebony” eyebrow pencils that Frida Kahlo used to emphasize her famous monobrow will be on full display still in its original packaging, along with her gently used blush, her favorite Revlon’s “Everything’s Rosy” lipstick, and her red nail varnish.

Apart from the lushly colored dresses, and beautifully embellished shawls that Kahlo wore to celebrate her cultural identity and the Mexican Revolution, the artist is famous for creating magnificent self-portraits that display her persistent journey of self-discovery. “I paint self-portraits,” Frida Kahlo once said, “because I am the person I know best. I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration.”

Info
“Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up”
Sponsored by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland
Address: Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL, UK
Phone: +44 (0)20 7942 2000
Hours: Daily: 10am – 5.45 pm, Friday: 10am – 10pm

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