Last summer I was lucky enough to find myself admiring not only the Grande Mosque in Abu Dhabi but the breath taking beauty of Roma as well. Italia has always been a dream with its captivating architecture created by the greatest minds in history combined with the traditions of the Renaissance in La Grande Cultura in arts, the Vatican and beyond. However, it was not long until my rebellious soul was notified of Frieda Kahlo’s exhibition at Scuderie del Quirinale, which explores Frida Kahlo’s artistic career from the very moment the seed was planted and well into the autumn of its blossom.
Frieda, the icon, the heroine of her day, of her very own opera, whose personal and creative life could only be described as; la folle giornata. The rebel labeled the ocultadora and the ”sardonic pasionaria of art” was and still remains the artistic symbol of the avant-garde to this day occupying our minds and enriching our souls. Frieda, the Flor de Muerto. Her cultural influence remains fundamental to
today’s artistic culture and contains to influence it. Prominent trendsetter Beyoncé paid homage to her legacy by dressing up as her for Halloween this year.
”Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón claimed to have been born in 1910, the year in which the Mexican Revolution began, but in actual fact she was born in Coyoacán (Mexico City) on 6 July 1907. Her paintings do not simply reflect her own life, however, marked as it was by the terrible accident that befell her at the age of seventeen. Her art is fused with the history and spirit of her contemporary world, reflecting the social and cultural changes that led up to the Revolution and ensued in its wake. Giving free rein to her rebellious spirit, she reassessed the native past and traditions of Mexican folklore, fully-fledged identity codes that generated an unprecedented fusion between self-expression and the language, the imagination, the colors and the symbols of Mexican popular culture”.
The exhibition focused around absolute masterpieces from her public and private collections in Mexico, Europe and the United States. The exhibition stretched out unto several floors and was peppered with memories, paintings she gave away to dentists in form of payments, photographs of her womanizing impresario husband Diego and his memorabilia including his Portrait of Natasha Gelman dated 1943 and his Nude (Frida Kahlo) dated 1930, her celebrated paintings Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird painted in 1940 and her Self-portrait Wearing a Velvet Dress 1926 which she painted for her first love Alejandro Gòmez Arias, with a nod to Modigliani’s motives with a prominent and elongated neck she depicted in the picture.
The exhibition is rounded off by a selection of drawings including the Sketch for the “Henry Ford Hospital” dated 1932, features a the famous Plaster Corset in which Frida was entrapped from 1950 sweetly painted with flowers and typical objects d’art which fall in favor in any teenager but with Kahlo’s own twist, the difficult years of her illness thrusting the viewer towards understand her life and work between Mexico, New York and Europe. Exhibition allows a viewer to catch a glimpse into truly rare and outstanding photographs produced by Nickolas Muray including Frida on White Bench, New York, 1939. A study of her work allows us to intercept the tangled trajectories of all the most important international cultural movements that crisscrossed the Mexico of her day, from Revolutionary Pauperism to Stridentism and from Surrealism to what was become known decades later as Magical Realism. In view of this, in association with Frida Kahlo’s work the exhibition hosted a selection of work by artists active at the time who “lived” both physically and artistically in Frida Kahlo’s entourage as José Clemente Orozco, José David Alfaro Siqueiros, Maria Izquierdo and others.
There can be no doubt that the legend which has grown up around the life and work of Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) has now reached global proportions; the unquestioned icon of 20th century Mexican culture and the seductive subject of a Hollywood movie, played by Salma Hayek Frida Kahlo’s contribution to contemporary culture comprises one of the most inextricable tangles of art and life of the whole of the 20th century. Yet her paintings do not merely mirror her life, severely marked, as it was by the physical and psychological injuries that she suffered in the terrible accident in which she was involved at the age of 17. Her art is fused with the history and spirit of her contemporary world, reflecting the social and cultural transformations that led up to the Mexican Revolution and ensued in its wake.
Frida Kahlo, Scuderie del Quirinale Exhibition location was at:
Scuderie del Quirinale
Via XXIV Maggio 16, Roma