TEN’S TO SEE: FRIDA KAHLO: MAKING HERSELF UP AT THE V&A
Frida Kahlo with Olmec figurine, 1939. Photograph Nickolas Muray. © Nickolas Muray Photo Archives
The heavy brow, the heavy blush, the flower crown… No, I’m not describing the beauty trends from Coachella 2018, but looking at a portrait of Frida Kahlo shot by her on-and-off lover Nickolas Murray. It’s incredible how even 64 years after the artist’s passing, her legend still lives on the streets – or in this case the Californian desert. I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count all the times I’ve seen someone recreating the iconic look for Halloween. A massive fringed floral shawl, a white peasant blouse, some plastic flowers and a pile of statement jewellery. So easy yet oh, so iconic. But how many people know that, even though they played a significant role in her life, there was more to Kahlo than just her striking looks? This seems to be the focus of Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up, the latest exhibition to open at the Victoria & Albert Museum in Kensington.
As its title suggests, the show, co-curated by Claire Wilcox and Circe Henestrosa, brings together the Mexican artist’s image and work in a self-referential way, looking at that how they complete, reflect and reinforce each other. On one side, you’ve got Kahlo’s own Revlon blush compact and lipstick, and just around the corner you can see a self-portrait of Frida Kahlo in her classic beauty look. Both her art and the look were a testament to her heritage, looking at Latin American ideals of beauty and creating a dialogue with Western cultures. Created in collaboration with Museo Frida Kahlo in Mexico city, the exhibition features over 200 objects including her clothes, jewellery, paintings, medical corsets and prosthetics, as well as film and photography depicting the artist’s life.
If you’re in need of some life inspiration – because let’s face it, who isn’t – Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up is the perfect place to go. It’s not only got the best museum gift shop assortment we’ve seen in a while, but is also an opportunity to get a wake up call by learning about the trials and tribulations of a fierce legend. A testament to her incredible influence that goes beyond the world of art and fashion, the exhibition is an insight into all the details that make Kahlo one of the most iconic women of 20th century. She was a feminist, a fighter and a trailblazer for a number of communities that were often shunned at the time – women, Latinos, people with disabilities, and many others. Frida Kahlo is the definition of #LIFEGOALS.
Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up is on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London until November 14.