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Frida Kahlo around the world

FRIDA AROUND THE WORLD

WHERE TO SEE THE FAMOUS MEXICAN ARTIST’S WORK

Frida Kahlo, that iconic Mexican artist from the early 20th century, was a true eccentric. In her art, she was impatient, often switching between styles: self-portraiture, surrealism, magical realism, still life.

She was prone to extravagant fashion choices, with a wardrobe that was as flamboyant as it was extensive. Politically, she was extreme, an activist and member of the Mexican Communist Party. Physically, she suffered: Struck by a car in her youth while also afflicted by polio, she endured 30 operations throughout her life. Her medical troubles greatly influenced her art, as did her social activism. She was, in all senses of the phrase, a true original. Kahlo has become something of an icon, showing up on the walls of cafes, urban graffiti works, and guitar-case stickers the world over. Even if one doesn’t know who Kahlo was, most will recognize her image. Kahlo became “first a legend, then a myth, and now a cult figure,” wrote the art historian Hayden Herrera in a 1992 biography. Like Che Guevara or Bob Marley, she lives on as a pop-cultural symbol. Here are some of the places in the world to glimpse her art today.

The Blue House

Otherwise known as the Frida Kahlo Museum, this sprawling, bright house in Coyoacán, Mexico City, was the home Kahlo shared with painter Diego Rivera. In 1958, four years after her death from a pulmonary embolism at age 47, it was converted into a museum, now one of the most popular in Mexico and the nexus for Frida fandom, with around 25,000 visitors a month. Gawk at her private belongings—her paintbrushes, bookcases, letters, dresses, kitchenware—along with paintings, sketches, and sculptures, all of it wonderfully explained in well-positioned

MoMA

With its boundary-defying, surrealist aesthetics, Kahlo’s work fits in wonderfully at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. There are three of her works there, all self-portraits. Fulang-Chang and I (1937) depicts her with her beloved pet monkey; the other two—My Grandparents, My Parents, and I (Family Tree) (1936) and Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair (1940)—are self-explanatory.

Kahlo has become a cultural icon.
Kahlo has become a cultural icon.

Credits: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection, [LC-USZ62-103971]

National Museum of Women in the Arts

At this expertly curated Washington, D.C., museum one can find Self-Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky, a painting done following the brief affair she had with the Russian Communist after he went into exile in Mexico City in 1937. The painting, one of the only works by a Mexican artist at the museum, was donated by Clare Boothe Luce, an American playwright, socialite, and congresswoman. In the painting, Kahlo clasps a letter addressed to Trotsky which reads, “with all my love.”

Museo Dolores Olmedo

Located in Xochimilco, at the southern end of Mexico City, this wonderful museum features works from the collection of the late Mexican businesswoman Dolores Olmedo (1908-2002). Twenty-seven of her exquisite Kahlo paintings, along with some sketches, attract regular crowds of admiring Frida-lovers. It is the largest Kahlo collection in the world (many of Rivera’s works are also there). A jewel of the collection is one of Kahlo’s masterpieces, The Broken Column (1944), a surrealist self-portrait exploring her medical problems.

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