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Frida Kahlo dressed as a boy
12:37 pm


Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo is about seventeen in these family photographs taken by her father, Guillermo Kahlo, circa 1924. Each member of the family adopts a pose reflective of their station, but it is Frida who holds our attention—she stares directly at the camera daring us to look away.

There is a game being played. Frida is dressed as a boy in shirt, tie and three-piece suit, she is playing a role, flouting convention. Frida is also challenging the viewer’s notion of gender.

Being used to seeing photographs or paintings of Frida Kahlo in her colorful, theatrical dress, these simple family portraits are beautiful, seductive and potent. Frida had been learning from her father the tricks of photography and how best to use the camera to project an image. With this knowledge, Frida is measuring herself against the camera’s gaze—she is not fazed, has no fear, and seems certain of her own powerful image, even at this age.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Rare, intimate photographs of Frida Kahlo in love, in pain and with her pets
09:44 am


Frida Kahlo

Frida And Her Ducks, 1948-49
Recently, the New York Botanical Gardens recreated parts of the extensive tropical gardens from Frida Kahlo’s famous “Casa Azul” home in Mexico. It’s the first solo NYC presentation of her work in 25 years, and fans are thrilled to see her art in such an immersive, lush setting. In conjunction with the show, Throckmorton Fine Art is showing a rare collection of photos from Frida until September 12th, many of which are set in the beautiful the gardens of the Blue House.

Though many of the photos appear to be candid snapshots, the images are textured with story. For example, Frida’s hand-painted “plaster bodice”—a cast she wore after one of her many surgeries—contains the hammer and sickle (a pretty explicit nod to her belief in revolutionary communism), but below that is a fetal image, a tragic reference to her failed attempt to have a child due to the bus accident in her youth that left her in constant pain. There are sweeter moments too. While her tumultuous relationship with her husband Diego Rivera produced some warm moments in front of the camera, it is with her many pets that you see Frida at her most gentle and caring.

Frida Wearing Plaster Corset, Which She Decorated With Hammer And Sickle (And Unborn Baby), Coyoacán, 1951

Frida With Michoacán Gourd On Head, 1933

Frida Winking, 1933
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
See Frida Kahlo’s wardrobe, locked away for 50 years
02:43 pm


Frida Kahlo

Traditional Tehuana dress
Anyone with the remotest familiarity with the paintings of Frida Kahlo will have noticed that one of her primary subjects is her own physical pain and the fragility of her own body, especially after a life-altering accident with a bus that occurred in 1925. In that accident, the bus she was riding on collided with a trolley car, and the list of the ailments that resulted would give even the staunchest stoic pause: a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone, several broken ribs, a broken pelvis, eleven fractures in her right leg, a crushed and dislocated right foot, a dislocated shoulder; an iron handrail pierced her abdomen and her uterus as well.

It wasn’t just her paintings that referenced her broken body (Tree of Hope, 1946, is a good example); her wardrobe inevitably did as well. Her clothes were an expression of her indomitable will as much as anything else—she was determined to live a fulfilled, independent, and creative life, and thus created for herself ad hoc clothes that fused skirts and corset or prosthetic leg and boot, and accommodated her misshapen, asymmetrical legs (as a result of which, she wore long, traditional Tehuana dresses to conceal her lower body). She painted on her body casts (one of them has the Communist hammer and sickle on it).

After Kahlo’s death in 1954, her husband Diego Rivera shut her belongings in a bathroom at their Mexico City home, the Blue House, the marvelous house they shared—and then insisted that it be locked up until 15 years after his death (which, in the event, happened in 1957). In fact, the room wasn’t opened until 2004, when Ishiuchi Miyako was given permission to photograph its intimate contents. The photographs will be on display at the Michael Hoppen Gallery in London from May 14 through July 12.

The best thing that could happen to the Internet right now would be for Etsy to become infected with Kahlo’s distinctive clothing aesthetic. This is a style icon!

Cats-eye glasses

Full body cast/skirt
More of Frida’s fashion, after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Frida Kahlo’s love letters from an extramarital affair up for auction (and they’re super hot)
01:35 pm


Frida Kahlo
love letters

Frida Kahlo’s marriage with husband Diego Rivera was non-traditional, to say the least. Scandalous stories of their sex lives usually center on Frida’s bisexuality or Diego’s infidelity (however libertine they may have considered themselves, she was most certainly not okay with him sleeping with her sister), but Frida also had a lesser-known, incredibly intense affair with Spanish painter José Bartoli. He inspired over 100 pages of adoring, sometimes quite erotic love letters, all of which he kept, and the entire collection is now up for auction.

Kahlo and Bartoli met in New York, when a 39-year-old Frida was enduring spinal surgery, one of the many painful medical treatments she received throughout her life to deal with the debilitating chronic injuries sustained in a bus accident at the age of 18. The letters are desperately passionate, with Frida’s physical pain and emerging morphine use fevering her words, her desire for health and vitality entwined with her desire for Bertoli. Her marriage was predictably unhappy at the time of correspondence, and she found herself doubting her talent and unable to work. The thought of Bertoli brought her both longing and relief.

Not all of the letters are published, but the auction house has published excerpts and a synopses of Kahlo’s life at the time. Here are some of the more stirring parts.

“Bartoli—last night I felt as if many wings caressed me all over, as if your finger tips had mouths that kissed my skin. The atoms of my body are yours and they vibrate together so that we love each other. I want to live and be strong in order to love you with all the tenderness that you deserve, to give you everything that is good in me, so that you will not feel alone.

“From the little bed where I lay I looked at the elegant line of your neck, the refinement of your face, your shoulders, and your broad and strong back. I tried to get as close to you as I could in order to sense you, to enjoy your incomparable caress, the pleasure that it is to touch you…. if I do not touch you my hands, my mouth and my whole body lose sensation. I know I will have to [imagine you] when you are gone.”

apart from love-making I know there is something indestructible and positive that unites us. It gives me equal pleasure to kiss you, to make love, to listen to you, to look at you, to watch you sleep, to know your inner life…. Let me tell you how I delight in retaining in my senses your caresses, your words, how I feel full of an interior light when I hear you say to me, ‘my Mara, my dove, my Tehuana.’

My Bartoli-Jose-Guiseppe-my red one, I don’t know how to write love letters. But I wanted to tell you that my whole being opened for you. Since I fell in love with you everything is transformed and is full of beauty. I would like to give you the prettiest colors, I want to kiss you…[I want] our dream worlds to be one. I would like to see from your eyes, hear from your ears, feel with your skin, kiss with your mouth. In order to see you from below [I would like] to be the shadow that is born from the soles of your feet and that lengthens along the ground upon which you walk…. I want to be the water the bathes you, the light that gives you form, [I wish] that my substance were your substance, that your voice should come out of my throat so as to caress me from inside.… in your desire and in your revolutionary struggle to make a better human life for everyone, I [want to] accompany you and help you, loving you, and in your laughter to find my joy

If sometimes you suffer, I want to fill you with tenderness so that you feel better. When you need me you will always find me near you. Waiting for you always. And I would like to be light and subtle when you want to be alone.”

It was the thirst of many years contained in our body…. Forgive me if all these things that I write are perhaps for you stupidities, but I believe that in love there is neither intelligence nor stupidity, love is like an aroma, like a current, like rain. You know, my sky, you rain on me and I, like the earth, receive you. Mara”

Via The Observer

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Baby and childhood photos of Frida Kahlo, taken by her photographer father Guillermo
05:57 pm


Frida Kahlo

Age 2, circa 1909
Much of what interests us about Frida Kahlo’s art is very personal. Themes of disability, fertility, ethnicity, sex and gender, romance, love and communism pervade her work, adding to the romantic fascination that her life inspires. Less often considered are the strange and erratic circumstances of her family life—beyond, of course, the fact that her husband Diego Rivera had an affair with her sister Cristina, pictured below. 

Frida’s photographer father Guillermo, who took these pictures, was a compelling character in his own right. He was born in Germany as Carl Wilhelm Kahlo (Frida insisted he was Jewish, though evidence indicates he was actually Lutheran), but he hispanicized the “Wilhelm” to “Guillermo” upon moving to Mexico. Guillermo’s father actually footed the travel bill because his son did not get along with his stepmother. Before marrying Frida’s mother, he had two daughters with his first wife, who died giving birth to their third child. Scandalously, Guillermo asked Frida’s maternal grandfather for permission to marry his daughter the very night his first wife died, and then sent his children from the marriage to be raised in a convent, shortly after the wedding.

Despite all of this, Frida was raised in a home of relative comfort and was close to her family. Her father appears to have been very supportive of her, even allowing her to dress in men’s clothing for a family photo. Even as a baby, her face is unmistakable—right down to the strong brows.

Age 4, 1911

Age 4, 1911

Date unknown

Age 5, 1912
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Frida Kahlo’s secret revenge affair with Leon Trotsky

To get back at her much older husband for his most recent infidelity, Frida Kahlo’s odd choice of a lover was their new housemate, the even older and also married Leon Trotsky. It is a plot out of a French farce, soap opera, proper high-brow opera, or an episode of The Jerry Springer Show if he had Marxist Revolutionary Week.

The exiled 58-year-old Leon Trotsky and his second wife Natalia Sedova arrived in Tampico, Mexico on a heavily guarded Norwegian oil tanker on January 9, 1937. The muralist and dedicated Trotskyite Diego Rivera had lobbied the Mexican government to offer Trotsky political asylum. Diego, ill and hospitalized, could not be at the port to meet the Trotskys. Instead his young wife, surrealist artist Frida Kahlo, was at the dock with journalists, Communist Party members, and government officials. She accompanied the couple back to Coyoacán and the home she shared with Diego, La Casa Azul (The Blue House), where the Trotskys lived heavily protected and catered to for two years.

Still angry and hurt from discovering Diego’s affair with her beautiful younger sister Cristina, Frida lost no time in openly flirting with Trotsky, who must have been flattered as hell at the attention. That spring their emotional affair grew into a physical one. Some of Frida and Trotsky’s clandestine meetings took place at Cristina’s house, which Diego had probably bought for her, along with a suite of red leather furniture. Frida and and Trotsky spoke English in front of their spouses, whose grasp of the language was paltry to non-existent, in Natalia’s case. He sneaked love letters to Frida between the pages of books he loaned to her.

Rivera was, by all accounts, an unrepentant philanderer with the hypocritical tendency to randomly fly into jealous rage when Frida behaved similarly with other men during their stormy marriage. (Her affairs with women, like Josephine Baker, didn’t bother him.) Stephanie Mencimer wrote in Washington Monthly, “Legend has it that for American women traveling to Mexico, having sex with Rivera was considered as essential as visiting Tenochtitlan.”

Diego and Natalia eventually discovered the dalliance, which seems to have been over by July 1937. Surprisingly he allowed Trotsky to continue to live at La Casa Azul instead of coming after him with a gun. There was enough of a political falling-out between the two men, not over infidelity but over Trotskyism, to prompt the revolutionary and his wife to move out of La Casa Azul and into a nearby house on Avenida Viena in early 1939. He left behind the self-portrait she had dedicated to him, “Between the Curtains.” In the painting she is holding a document that says, “To Trotsky with great affection, I dedicate this painting November 7, 1937. Frida Kahlo, in San Angel, Mexico.” November 7th was Trotsky’s birthday as well as the Gregorian calendar anniversary of the October Revolution.

Frida and Trostky remained friends until his assassination by Ramón Mercader on Stalin’s orders the following year. She was a suspect in the murder and held by police for questioning for two days.

No passionate missives between the unlikely lovers survive. According to biographer Bertrande M. Patenaude, author of Trotsky: Downfall of a Revolutionary, at the end of their brief relationship Trotsky asked Frida to return all his love letters so he could burn them.
Frida & Diego & Natalia & Leon: Rare home movie footage from 1938 of the two couples in Coyocoán, Mexico:

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
Frida Kahlo’s wardrobe now on display
10:40 am


Frida Kahlo

Kahlo with husband, Diego Rivera
Unfortunately though, not anywhere near me.

Frida Kahlo’s clothes were recently curated at her home (now a museum) in Mexico City. While Frida’s traditional dresses, which defied the modern European fashions of the time, are the obvious draw, it would be just as fascinating to see the elements of her wardrobe that functioned as a part of her disability.

The artist’s ornately decorated prosthetic leg will be on display, though I believe her beautifully-painted torso casts are in separate collections.
Frida's Cast
Plaster Corset With A Hammer And Sickle (An Unborn Baby)

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Gallery of Lost Art: A century of vanished work by the likes of Freud, Kahlo & Duchamp

It is strange to think that some the most important works of art from the past 100 years have been lost, erased, destroyed, stolen, censored, or allowed to rot, and can now no longer be seen.

The Gallery of Lost Art is a virtual exhibition that reconstructs the stories behind the disappearances of some of the world’s best known and influential works of art. It’s the biggest virtual exhibition of its kind, and is curated by Jennifer Mundy, and is produced by the Tate in association with Channel 4 television. The virtual Gallery has been beautifully designed by digital studio ISO, and the site will be kept live for 12 months, before it is lost.

Amongst those currently on exhibition at the Gallery of Lost Art are:

Lucian Freud Portrait of Francis Bacon (1952)

This small painting was stolen in at exhibition in Germany on May 27th, 1988. It is considered one of Freud’s best early works, and although there was a police investigation and a hefty reward (300,000DM) the portrait has never been recovered.
Tracey Emin: Everyone I have Ever Slept With 1963-1995

Made in 1995, when Tracey Emin was still relatively unknown, Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995 is a tent covered with the names of all the people Emin had slept with, including lovers, friends, family members and foetus 1, foetus 2. Inspired by an exhibition of Tibetan nomadic culture, which included examples of their tents, which are used by Tibetan monks for meditation, Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995 made Emin an over-night sensation and one of the most controversial artists working in Britain at that time. The work was bought by Charles Saatchi, who kept it (along with hundreds of other art works), in a warehouse in London’s east end. In 2004, a fire destroyed this warehouse and most of Saatchi’s collection - including 40 paintings by Patrick Heron.

The Gallery of Lost Art - see the exhibition here, before it is gone.
More Lost Art from Kahlo, Sutherland and Duchamp, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Frida Kahlo as Patti Smith (or vice versa?)
12:03 pm


Patti Smith
Frida Kahlo

I’m not entirely sure what the Angry Lambie website (NSFW) is all about, but it sure looks like they’re big Frida Kahlo fans.

Here’s the only thing the site says regarding the manipulated images:

Frida Kahlo nudes created in Photoshop (except for the drawings which are authentic)

If you didn’t get it the first time, it’s a NSFW link

Image via The World’s Best Ever

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment