Culture

There’s A Frida Kahlo Exhibit That Features Rare Family Photos And It Made Me So Emotional

Frida Kahlo died 63 years ago, yet her presence is alive more than ever.

Frida Kahlo in the Blue House, Anonymous, 1930 ©Frida Kahlo Museum
CREDIT: Frida Kahlo in the Blue House, Anonymous, 1930 ©Frida Kahlo Museum

Since her death, there have been countless exhibits, documentaries, biographies and feature films all in her name. However, her persona is still so inexplicable, which is why we continue to seek her out. It is her persistent and mysterious entity that brought me to Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, Calif., to experience “Frida Kahlo ‐ Her Photos.” This exhibition is unlike any that I’ve ever seen. It does not feature her artwork but rather 240 original photographs that belong to Frida and her family.

The “Frida Kahlo – Her Photos” exhibit in Santa Ana, Calif., is unlike any that I’ve ever seen. It features 240 original photographs that belong to Frida and her family.

“Throughout her life, Frida meticulously collected thousands of photographs of loved ones as well as scenes of Mexican culture, politics, art, history, and nature,” Bowers Museum states. “After her death, the collection was locked away by a grieving Diego Rivera in Frida’s Mexico City family home, Casa Azul.”

This exhibit is incredibly rare because the images have been locked up for 50 years.

But why did I start crying as soon I entered the museum – before even seeing a single photograph?

#bowersmuseum #fridakahlo #streetphotography #fineartphotography #lofi

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Bowers’ beautiful Spanish architecture is breathtaking, but Frida’s presence on the grounds is palpable.

Frida’s image can be seen on posters and billboards throughout the streets of Santa Ana and Anaheim. It really gave the city a whole new cultural take. Given Frida’s Mexican roots and the large Latino population in the area, the visual of her face really put historical context to her influence.

Once inside the museum, and upon entering the exhibit, it’s as if Frida’s spirit guided me inside her sacred world.

If you click on #BowersMuseum on Instagram, you will see the many people that visited just to see this Frida show.

The show begins with a rare look at the history of her family.

"Frida Kahlo - Her Photos"
CREDIT: “Frida Kahlo – Her Photos”

Guests can see several images of her father, Guillermo Kahlo, and her mother Matilde Calderón y González, and her extended family. I had no idea how affluent her family was. Even more incredible was the fact that Frida’s mother was as eccentric as she was.

We also see beautiful images of Frida as a little girl.

Frida at the age of 5, Anonymous, 1912 ©Frida Kahlo Museum
CREDIT: Frida at the age of 5, Anonymous, 1912 ©Frida Kahlo Museum

This part really got me choked up. Here we have young Frida, a future revolutionary in the making and a child that would grow up to inspire so many. The show is divided into six sections and follows her life in a chronological order.

Aside from famous images we’ve seen of Frida, the show has some really amazing shots of the artist that most haven’t seen before.

Frida Kahlo, by Guillermo Kahlo, 1926 ©Frida Kahlo Museum
CREDIT: Frida Kahlo, by Guillermo Kahlo, 1926 ©Frida Kahlo Museum

It’s quite stunning to witness Frida developing as a young girl into adulthood through these images. You can literally see how Mexico and her family influenced her style and early work.

One of the most touching moments in the show is this picture of Diego with Frida’s kiss marks.

Diego Rivera (in his study at San Ángel), Anonymous, ca. 1940 ©Frida Kahlo Museum
CREDIT: Diego Rivera (in his study at San Ángel), Anonymous, ca. 1940 ©Frida Kahlo Museum

While most fans know a lot about the relationship between Diego and Frida, here we can see her true devotion of the man that influenced her tremendously.

On the wall above some these photographs of Diego reads a quote by Frida:

“I have suffered two serious accidents in my life, one in which a streetcar ran over me….the other accident is Diego.”

Of this love, a historian, who was featured in a short film in the exhibition said, that her love for Diego was more than intense and desperate. It was a fixation because he introduced her to art, culture, notoriety, desire, and, of course, love.

The images of Frida after her accident are especially heartfelt because fans can fully grasp her excruciating pain and unwavering spirit.

Frida in the New York hospital, by Nickolas Muray, 1946 ©Frida Kahlo Museum
CREDIT: Frida in the New York hospital, by Nickolas Muray, 1946 ©Frida Kahlo Museum

I found the images of her incapacitated state to be moving and made me feel more appreciative of the art she created during this time.

One of the reasons I believe people, especially women, adore Frida so much is because she owned up to all of her realities and never made excuses for who she was. Here was a woman that painted her pain, her fears, her loves, and herself regardless of her insecurities or what anyone else thought.

Naturally, even after I exited the exhibit, I still couldn’t get enough of Frida’s spirt. So I went crazy at the gift shop and stocked up on Frida goods.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

I highly recommend buying “Frida Kahlo: Her Photos,” because it contains images from this show and many more.

This exhibit will be on view at the Bowers Museum, 2002 North Main Street, Santa Ana, CA, through June 25, 2017.

READ: See What People On The Internet Are Fighting About Over This Latina Inspired Snapchat Filter

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If You Call Yourself A Frida Kahlo Fan Then You Should Be Following These Five Artists

Culture

If You Call Yourself A Frida Kahlo Fan Then You Should Be Following These Five Artists

Bettman Archives / Getty Images

So many of us have been moved the art of the late Frida Kahlo. Even in death she’s gone on to inspire entire generations with her Surrealist self-portraits, lush depictions of plant and animal life, and magical realist tableaux. Not to mention her incredible life story.

She also inspired future generations of artists, many of whom are alive today creating beautiful works of art. These are just a few of the artists who have similar techniques, subjects, and styles to Frida Kahlo that you’ll definitely love if you’re a fan of Frida Kahlo.

Maria Fragoso – Mexico City

Credit: Teach Me Sweet Things / Theirry Goldberg Gallery

Influenced by the style and narratives of Mexican surrealists and muralists, Maria Fragoso creates work that celebrates her Mexican culture, while also addressing notions of gender expression and queer identity. Her brightly colored canvases offer voyeuristic glimpses into intimate moments, with subjects engaging in acts that seem at once seductive and mischievous—often while gazing directly out at the viewer.

Recently featured in Forbes’s “30 Under 30” in the “Art and Style” category, the 25-year-old artist is quickly rising to prominence. Born and raised in Mexico City, Fragoso moved to Baltimore in 2015 to pursue her BFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art. While in school, Fragoso was the recipient of the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Fellowship at the Yale Norfolk School of Art. Since graduating, she has completed residencies at Palazzo Monti and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.

Nadia Waheed – Austin, Texas

Credit: Message from Janus / Mindy Solomon Gallery

Born in Saudi Arabia to Pakistani parents, Austin, Texas–based artist Nadia Waheed explores notions of relocation, displacement, and vulnerability in her work. Her life-size figurative paintings are both allegorical and autobiographical—the female figures represent her own lived experiences, as well as the multifaceted identities of all women.

Rodeo Tapaya – Philippines

Credit: Nowhere Man / A3 Art Agency

Rodel Tapaya paints dreamlike, narrative works based on myths and folklore from his native Philippines. Drawing parallels between age-old fables and current events, Tapaya reimagines mythical tales by incorporating fragments of the present. “In some way, I realize that old stories are not just metaphors. I can find connections with contemporary time,” Tapaya said in a 2017 interview with the National Gallery of Australia. “It’s like the myths are poetic narrations of the present.”

While the content of Tapaya’s work is inspired by Filipino culture, his style and literary-based practice is heavily influenced by Mexican muralists and Surrealist painters such as José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and, of course, Frida Kahlo. Often working at a large scale, Tapaya has been commissioned to create several site-specific murals, including one for Art Fair Philippines in February 2020.

Leonor Fini – Buenos Aires

Credit: Les Aveugles / Weinstein Gallery

Long overlooked in favor of male Surrealists, Leonor Fini, a contemporary of Kahlo, was a pioneering 20th-century force. Known for having lived boldly, Fini is recognized for her unconventional lifestyle, theatrical personality, and avant-garde fashion sense. Born in Buenos Aires in 1907, Fini was raised by her mother in Trieste, Italy. She taught herself to paint and first exhibited her work at the age of 17.

Fini had one of her first solo exhibitions at age 25 with a Parisian gallery directed by Christian Dior. Her work was then included in the groundbreaking exhibition “Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism” at MoMA in 1936, while at the same time she had her first New York exhibition with Julien Levy Gallery. Today, Fini’s work is represented in many major public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Tate Modern in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.

Ramon Alejandro – Miami

Credit: Eternal Life / Latino Art Core

José Ramón Díaz Alejandro, better known as Ramon Alejandro, paints idyllic still lifes of tropical fruits set in ethereal landscapes. The surrealistic compositions have a similar spirit to Kahlo’s less iconic but equally masterful still-life works

Coming from a long lineage of artists, Alejandro grew up with the artworks of his great-grandfather, grandfather, and uncle adorning the walls of his childhood home. After growing up in Havana, Alejandro was sent to live in Argentina in 1960 amidst political turmoil in Cuba, and has continued to live in exile since then.

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Yes, Someone Created An Actual Honest To God 108-Foot Vulva Statue In Brazil

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Yes, Someone Created An Actual Honest To God 108-Foot Vulva Statue In Brazil

BUDA MENDES / GETTY IMAGES

There’s no denying the fact that the female form, and it’s bits, in particular, have inspired artwork the world over. Tarsila do Amaral was inspired by it. Frida Kahlo and artists like Zilia Sánchez and Marta Minujín too. Women’s bodies are inspired and so they inspire. Still, a recent unveiling of vulva artwork has become so controversial and made people so besides themselves that it seems many have forgotten these truths about our bodies.

Over the weekend, Brazilian visual artist Juliana Notari revealed her latest sculptureDiva, on a hillside at Usina del Arte. The art park is located in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco and is described by Notari as “a massive vulva / wound excavation.”

The massive sculpture created on the hillside located in northeastern Brazil features a bright pink vulva and has fueled what is being described as a cultural war.

Notari created Diva, a colorful 108-foot concrete and resin sculpture on the site of a former sugar mill. The mill was converted into an open-air museum in Pernambuco state. Last week, when Notari debuted the installation she revealed it was meant to depict both a vulva and a wound while questioning the relationship between nature and culture in a “phallocentric and anthropocentric society.”

“These issues have become increasingly urgent today,” Notari wrote in a post shared to her Facebook page which was shared alongside a series of photos of the sculpture. According to NBC, it took a team of 20 artisans 11 months to build the entire concept.

No surprise, the piece of art sparked a wave of controversy on social media, with critics and supports debating its message and significance.

Over 25,000 users have commented on Notari’s Facebook post so far including leftists and conservatives. On the far-right, supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro have also been vocal about their views of the product.

“With all due respect, I did not like it. Imagine me walking with my young daughters in this park and them asking … Daddy, what is this? What will I answer?” one user wrote in the Facebook section of the post.

“With all due respect, you can teach your daughters not to be ashamed of their own genitals,” a woman replied.

Olavo de Carvalho, an advisor to Bolsonaro, vulgarly criticized the piece on Twitter.

Notari, whose previous work has been displayed at various galleries explained on her Facebook page that she created the piece to comment on gender issues in general.

“In Diva, I use art to dialogue with…gender issues from a female perspective combined with a cosmopocentric and anthropocentric western society,” Notari shared on her post to Facebook. “Currently these issues have become increasingly urgent. After all, it is by changing perspective of our relationship between humans and nonhuman, that will allow us to live longer on that planet and in a less unequal and catastrophic society.”

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