A powerful gaze, heavy eyebrows, downy upper lip, eye-catching dresses and artistic hairstyles Frida Kahlos distinctive features will be familiar to most. Including herself in her art in new and active ways, Kahlo was a modern-art pioneer with a place in art history alongside Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso. All told, she painted only around 150 canvases before dying at age 47. Now, ARKEN
has gathered some of Kahlos most iconic works, which have never before been seen in Denmark, for an exhibition opening on 7 September.
Self-staging as artistic strategy
ARKENs exhibition FRIDA KAHLO A Life in Art shows how the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) created and staged her identity through her art. In light of her exceptionally colourful personal life, Kahlos paintings have often been viewed as direct representations of her own life. But the works are more than just testimonies of private events and personal experiences, they are highly staged artworks created by one of the most dramatic women of the modern age. Offering a window into Kahlos life and art, FRIDA KAHLO A Life in Art zeroes in on her use of self-representation and self-staging as an artistic method. The artists self-portraits are the main reason for the nearly cult-like idolization of her today.
Outright Fridamania is manifested in the Hollywood film Frida, starring Salma Hayek, which has become an integrated part of popular culture across the West. This film and the documentary The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo will be screened daily during the exhibition.
Frida Kahlo and her times
Kahlos self-staging was part of a general trend in Mexico at the time, revolving around the construction of a new national identity after years of colonization and oppression. The exhibition makes this clear through works by Frida Kahlos husband, the painter Diego Rivera, and other Mexican artists like José Clemente Orozco, Juan Soriano and María Izquierdo, who were all part of the Mexican Renaissance. Selected photographs of Kahlo show how she actively shaped her image in a stream of portraits shot by the leading, most celebrated photographers of her day. Including pages from her diary, drawings, historical film clips, pre-Columbian sculpture, Mexican dresses and jewellery, the exhibition widens our understanding of the artists self-staging.