Bits and Pieces of Frida

As someone who adored the colorful, poignant movie “Frida” (and Salma Hayek’s saucy portrayal of the famous Mexican painter) and who could just spend hours poring over vintage photographs, I’m interested in the exhibit which opened last night at Artisphere in Arlington. Called “Frida Kahlo: Her Photos,” it’s less a showing of artwork than a historical collection of photographs, curated by Mexican photographer Pablo Ortiz Monasterio.  He selected 240 images from Frida’s personal collection of over 6,500 (which had been sealed away for more than 50 years following her death in 1954.) This is the first showing in the United States; the permanent collection is at the Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico.

Frida in 1930

Frida is known for her tumultuous life as much as for her powerful self portraits. Her adulthood was  filled with physical and emotional pain, from accidents, surgeries, miscarriages and her chronically unfaithful husband (famous Mexican painter Diego Rivera).  She also had her own string of flings with other cultural icons of the era. It was a life fit for the movies. But a show like this offers us the unique gift of the camera: a personal, up close view into the every day reality of a luminescent person long gone.

A few more samples from the show:

Bedridden after an accident in her teens, Frida began doing art as a way to pass the time.


Diego Rivera in 1940. Frida's father referred to their union as that between an "elephant and a dove"

Frida paints her father, himself a successful photographer (who did a lot of self portraits.)


Love this 1938 photo for how much it resembles her self portraits (see below)


6 thoughts on “Bits and Pieces of Frida

  1. I would love to be able to see this exhibit. I think it’s cool to see the “behind the scenes” of someone you recognize solely from her paintings. I really liked the colour photo of her and the monkey and then the follow up of the iconic painting. As soon as I graduate – I’m going to have to move somewhere with some culture!

    • You’re in TN right? Ironically I’m so excited to be in the city and yet it seems like I never have TIME to go take advantage of the culture! Must make time… glad you enjoyed :)

  2. What an enjoyable entry, thank you! She really did have an incredible life. I always admired that she kept her fiery spirit throughout her illnesses and pain and was just so unstoppable.

  3. Be wary of Artisphere. I’ve been a couple of times and been disappointed with their treatment of the their subjects; they seemed…like they were trying too hard to be casual and hip and it came off as hipster-ish.

    An exhibit by or about Kahlo should be able to stand on its own in an abandoned barn, so I’m sure Artisphere won’t do it any harm.

    I also enjoyed Salma Hayak’s portrayal of the artist. Quite an actress!

  4. I saw Frida’s show of work in Philly and it was unbelievable.
    I was in awe with each piece. To think what she put into them.
    Had to keep Penny(my wife) from touching them!(She wanted to get closer to her energy.)
    The pieces are that strong.
    I encourage anyone who is even NEAR one of her shows to get there.
    This show of photos looks very cool.

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