Frida Kahlo, known to for her paintings, was also no stranger to the camera. She was one of the most photographed women of her generation, emanating her sensuality, personal fashion, and unique beauty. Her father was well-known photographer Guillermo Kahlo and through sitting for portraits she learned the power of the medium. Kahlo stated: “When my father took my picture in 1932 after my accident, I knew that a battlefield of suffering was in my eyes. From then on, I started looking straight at the lens, unflinching, unsmiling, determined to show that I was a good fighter to the end.”
The exhibition “Mirror, Mirror . . . Portraits of Frida Kahlo” features fifty-seven photographs by twenty-seven photographers, that range from family to historically recognized photographers such as Imogen Cunningham and Edward Weston. Weston’s portraits of Frida show her at her most regal. He said of her in a journal that though she looked like “a little doll” alongside her husband, muralist Diego Rivera, she was “strong and quite beautiful … and causes much excitement in the streets of San Francisco. People stop in their tracks to look (at her) in wonder …”
Many times she found herself in front of the camera with photographers on assignment for international magazines and newspapers largely due to the celebrity of her husband. Mexican photojournalist Héctor García spent time with Frida at her home, Casa Azul, in Mexico City, in 1949. During that time she was confined to her bed. Her subsequent physical and emotional pain are visible; it was the same year that Rivera began an affair with the actress María Felix, whom he asked to marry him, returning to Frida after Felix refused him.