Frida Kahlo in Rosslyn

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Frida in Artisphere

Today I had a chance (last chance since the exhibit is closing) to see 259 photographs from Frida Kahlo’s personal collection, in storage and sealed until 2007 and for the first time on display in the U.S. in Rosslyn’s Artisphere. The images were divided into six thematic collections. The Origins shows the photos of her family, including many portraits of her Mexican mother and German father. The Blue House documents Frida’s life in her beloved Casa Azul where she was born in 1907, lived for years, and died in 1954. The Broken Body shows the physical pain that permeated Frida’s life ever since a tram accident crushed her pelvis and fractured her spine, requiring more than 30 surgeries over the years. Loves, The Photography, and Diego’s Eye focus on portraits and candid moments of Frida and the people who mattered in her life, notably husband Diego Rivera. I learned three pieces of trivia from the exhibit:

    1. Frida’s mother was of Tehuana heritage (from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec area). Frida looked exactly like her, unibrow and all.
    2. Her father was born in Pforzheim, Germany, changed his name from Wilhelm to Guillermo when he moved to Mexico.
    3. Arlington, VA and Coyoacán in Mexico City are sister cities.

The exhibit made me think of my trip to Mexico in 2010 and a visit to Casa Azul in the quiet neighborhood of Coyoacán, which today houses Frida Kahlo Museum. I can’t say I share all of Frida’s passions (fascination with communism, for one) but her vivid sense of identity and history is definitely something that speaks to me in her art and spoke to me in that house. Casa Azul and its beautiful garden clearly show Frida’s – and Diego’s – love of vibrant color, Mexican folk tradition, and pre-Hispanic art. The interior has been meticulously preserved, including Frida’s collection of clothes and jewelry, and several of her paintings. The garden is lush and peaceful with a friendly cat hanging around. It feels like they never left…

The museum put together a great video that interweaves the personal photos from the Rosslyn exhibit with images from Casa Azul. Frida Kahlo fans – enjoy!

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