No Contemporary Art without Frida
The Rebel, the Woman, the Icon. Celebrated as exotic, denied as insufficient, Frida Kahlo was tormented by pain and led by love throughout her life, leaving her personal anthology of fantastic portraits and paintings. Often correlated with Surrealism, ideological and highly individual influences in her painting must not be overlooked, especially considering the fact she had no official training in art.
Still, her talent, relentless pursuit of the arts, and the liberated lifestyle turned Kahlo into the luminary and emblem of Mexican modern art. Adored by millions, honored by thousands, Frida exudes her influence even today, by her art and by her excruciating story.
Frida Kahlo in Rome
European public has the very rare occasion of enjoy the work of Frida Kahlo in an exhibition at Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome until the end of the summer. The show has been on since March, showcasing Frida’s artistic path from the very beginning until the end by presenting a comprehensive array of works and personal items gathered from the most important collections in Mexico, Europe and the USA. The exhibition has over 40 paintings on display, including her famous self-portrait Self-portrait with a Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird from 1940, shown in Italy for the first time.
Chronological installation of the Frida Kahlo exhibition allows the visitor to empathise with the artist through all of her suffering and elations, to fall in love, to cry and create, trying to resolve the growing knot in the stomach. Starting off with the earliest of works, the show contains series of hospital drawings, small works, surreal contemplation and even Frida’s Plaster Corset from 1950, in which she was captured for a long time, enlivened by a set of symbols. Frida’s image was a part of her as much as her art, portrayed in a collection of beautiful photographs included in the show. These amazing portraits of the artist let us connect with her on a personal level, while the aesthetics is immaculate. Definitely the most reproduced and widely known photographs of the lot is Frida on White Bench shot in 1939 in New York by Nickolas Murray – that will later get published on the cover of Vogue, becoming one of the magazine’s most celebrated feature images in history. One can read her relationship with her sister, with her friends, students and with her beloved Diego throughout the show, which ends in the expected, heartbreaking way, leaving us without Frida and giving her to the world at the same time.
Entitled simply – Frida Kahlo, the exhibition focuses on the [self] representation of the artist, through the elaborate, completely unique, visual language, constantly evolving in accordance with her, and emphasizes the importance the portraiture had in the way Frida communicated her ideological values and emotional states.
Ever since her unfortunate death in 1954, Frida Kahlo has been growing in the eyes of the artistic world. Her feminist ideas, communist ideals and buoyant nature of burning passion have been the inspiration for the many contemporary art creatives, especially women. Hordes of contemporary artists follow her footsteps, conjuring introspective, inquisitive work, including figures such as Cindy Sherman or Shirin Neshat. She can also be perceived as one of the first pop icons (remember Vogue), which she remains to this day.
As urban art loves icons, luminaries, leaders and innovators, Frida Kahlo has been the inspiration of big and unknown street artists across the planet, from her Mexico, over the USA to Europe. Small stencils, paste-ups or unfortunately executed portraits celebrate her legacy, glorifying life as she once did. Even Brazilian muralist Eduardo Kobra paid an homage to Frida in a mural he executed in Miami last November during the Art Basel week. Frida is depicted by Kobra in the company of Basquiat, Warhol and Dali, immortalized on the imposing wall in Wynwood district.
Although she died tragically, Frida is very much alive today, in the art, in the minds of her admirers, still ethereally pursuing the motto – Viva la Vida!