Lonely Planet Writer

See Frida Kahlo’s personal items on display for the first time in the US

Frida Kahlo is one of the most revered artists of the 20th century, famous for exploring her life, heritage and body with introspective self-portraits. Now for the first time, fans will be able to see her clothes, makeup and personal items on display in the US, alongside her art.

Nickolas Muray (American, born Hungary, 1892–1965). Frida in New York, 1946; printed 2006. Carbon pigment print, image: 14 x 11 in. (35.6 x 27.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Emily Winthrop Miles Fund, 2010.80. Photo by Nickolas Muray, Image by © Nickolas Muray Photo Archive. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)

The Brooklyn Museum in New York City has announced the exhibit Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving is opening on 8 February, 2019. This exhibition is based on another held in London this year at the V&A, which marked the first time Kahlo’s personal objects from the Blue House, her long-time home in Mexico City, went on display outside Mexico. Now, the Brooklyn Museum will be the first in the US to display the items as part of the exhibit, which explores “how politics, gender, clothing, national identities, and disability played a part in defining Kahlo’s self-presentation in her work and life”.

This will be done with the help of her clothing, contemporary and Mesoamerican jewellery, cosmetics and hand-painted orthopaedic corsets, on displayed alongside ten major paintings and a selection of drawings. Some of those major works include Self-Portrait with Necklace (1933), Self- Portrait with Braid (1941), and Self-Portrait as a Tehuana, Diego on My Mind (1943). There will also be photographs of the artist, historical film, and objects from the museum’s Mesoamerican art collection.

View of the exhibition Appearances Can Be Deceiving at the Frida Kahlo Museum, 2012. Photo by Miguel Tovar. Image by © Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera Archives. Bank of Mexico, Fiduciary in the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Museum Trust

What makes seeing these items so unique is that after Kahlo’s death in 1954, her husband Diego Rivera instructed that their personal items be locked in the Blue House and not be touched until 15 years after his death.

Catherine Morris, a senior curator at the Brooklyn Museum, said in a statement: “under-recognized in her lifetime, Kahlo has become a feminist icon over the past four decades. The prevailing narrative that women are too often defined by their clothes, their appearance, and their beauty was powerfully co-opted by Kahlo through the empowering and intentional choices she made to craft her own identity. The exhibition is titled after a drawing by Kahlo, in which she makes visible the disability that her striking Tehuana skirts and blouses covered. The show expands our understanding of Kahlo by revealing the unique power behind the ways she presented herself in the world and depicted herself in her art.”

Frida Kahlo (Mexican, 1907–1954). Self-Portrait as a Tehuana, 1943. Oil on hardboard, 30 x 24 in. (76 x 61 cm). The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of 20th Century Mexican Art and the Vergel Foundation. Image by © 2018 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving is a timed ticketed exhibition and the tickets go on sale 3 December. Standard tickets are US$20 (€17.61) for adults and untimed tickets, which allow visitors to enter any time on a specific date, cost US$35 (€30.82). For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.brooklynmuseum.org. The exhibition will be on view from 8 February to 12 May.