Few artists can summon voyeuristic interest like Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, whose physical torment, tumultuous wedded life and famous lovers could have come straight from a telanovela.
Yet Artisphere’s new exhibit, “Frida Kahlo: Her Photos,” opening tonight, isn’t nearly as sexy as you hope it will be.
The exhibit features mostly keepsakes dug up from the sealed archives of Kahlo and her artist husband, Diego Rivera. Tucked away for 50 years were thousands of images Kahlo collected from family, friends, lovers and other artists, as well as a few shots she took herself.
But what’s on the walls at Artisphere are copies. The actual photos went on display in 2007 at the Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico, and have remained there since. The perfectly aged-looking tears and wrinkles that viewers can make out at Artisphere are thanks to a careful process used to make facsimilies of the worn, wrinkled originals.
Read my full review of “Frida Kahlo: Her Photos” here, and check out some striking images from the show below. An opening reception for the show is tonight from 7 to 10 p.m.
One of the few color images in the show: Kahlo with her pet spider monkey Fulang-Chang in 1938. The monkey appeared as a motif in the artist’s paintings, as did other animals. (Photo by Florence Arquin)
Frida painting a portrait of her father, Guillermo Kahlo, in 1951, just a few years before her death in 1954. Guillermo Kahlo emerges in the exhibit as a major influence on his daughter’s paintings. He was a photographer, one given to strong self-portraits — ring a bell? (Photo by Gisele Freund)
Nickolas Muray, left, a famed photographer, had an affair with Kahlo that lasted years, through some of Kahlo’s darkest days. Several of the most intimate photos in the exhibit — including several of Kahlo in hospitals — are taken by Muray, and they’re among the most compelling images in the show. (Photo by Nickolas Muray )
Kahlo painted from her various sickbeds throughout her life; in fact, her artistic career began while recovering from the devastating bus accident of her youth. During these times, she frequently used photos as inspiration for her paintings. (Anonymous photo with Miguel Covarrubias)
Frida Kahlo in traction in 1940. (Nickolas Muray)