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"Kahlo: An Expanded Body" at the Parrish Art Museum, New York, US

19 November 2022 | 02 April 2023

This exhibition is a creative study of Frida Kahlo (Mexican, 1907–1954) through the prism of her extraordinary medical history and the long-lasting effects it had on both her life and her art.

More than 100 items, some of which have never been seen before, are on display in the exhibition thanks to Kahlo's Mexican artist grandniece Cristina Kahlo's rare access to personal family records. Facsimiles of letters and postcards written by Frida to her loved ones, doctors, and family are on display, along with images of the artist and her friends and family taken by Mexican and foreign photographers like Lola Alvarez Bravo, Florence Arquin, Gisele Freund, Guillermo Kahlo, Antonio Kahlo, and Nickolas Muray.

There are also extensive graphic medical records and documents. The exhibition is enhanced by original artwork by Cristina Kahlo, which examines Frida's life through the viewpoint of her health struggles.

"Kahlo: An Expanded Body" begins with a photographic account of Kahlo's hospitalizations at the American British Cowdray (ABC) Hospital in Mexico City, showing the staff, the outside and inside of the building, as well as the operating room where several of her treatments were performed.

Over the course of her life, Kahlo made various parts of her body, including her mouth, torso, and heart, into recurrent images in her artwork. A 30-inch red fabric heart by Mara and Tolita Figueroa is among the representational and metaphorical works that make up the entire gallery that is devoted to the subject of the heart. Other pieces deal with sensitive subjects by using photographs of the artist with individuals close to her, such as family and childhood pictures and group shots from the 1930s to the 1950s that also include her husband Diego Rivera.

Julien Levy's 1938 images of Kahlo's bare chest serve as further representations of the artist's body. In Kahlo's artwork, blood is frequently depicted in one of her favorite hues, carmine crimson. Her own crimson lipstick kisses that adorn her photos, letters, and postcards give it a more personal setting.

A bed that mimics the 1940 picture The Dream (the Bed) and a table with art tools for kids to use to produce portraits and postcards to distribute in a community art initiative are both featured in the exhibition's interactive educational section.


Other info at the Museum website below.