fridas' Closet - forever frida series
14 x 18 Oils on Canvas
I wanted to have this painted for Frida’s birthday in July but it just didn’t work out. You can imagine how much time it took for me to paint this but I enjoyed every minute. I found this to be a fascinating story about Frida’s personal belongings. They have recently been releasing more and more unseen photos since the opening of her closet after 58 years. I was compelled to paint:
Nov. 26, 2012— -- Imagine being in Frida Kahlo's childhood home and opening up a closet that has been locked for decades. Inside are hundreds of personal items – personal photographs, love letters, medications, jewelry, shoes, and clothing that still hold the smell of perfume and the last cigarette she smoked.
That is exactly what happened when Hilda Trujillo Soto, the director of the Frida Kahlo Museum opened the closets that had been locked since the Mexican artist's death in 1954. Inside were over 300 items belonging to Frida Kahlo, and now, a wide array of what was found is on display at the Casa Azul, the Frida Kahlo Museum in the Coyoacán neighborhood of Mexico City.
The exhibit, Appearances Can Be Deceiving: The Dresses of Frida Kahlo, a collaboration between the museum and Vogue Mexico, brings to an end an elaborate 50-year scheme to keep private the intimate details of Kahlo's life. It started when she died in 1954, as a distraught Diego Rivera the famous Mexican muralist and Frida Kahlo's husband, locked the doors to her closet and never let anyone enter for fear that the contents would be mishandled and ruined.
When he died in 1957 the task of protecting its contents went to a dear friend and patron, Dolores Olmedo who promised him that the closet would remain unopened until 15 years after his death. She kept her word. In fact, she decided to keep the closet locked until her own death. And she lived a long life, passing away in 2002 at the age of 93.
Eventually, museum personnel decided it was time to look inside. And what a discovery. Art historians and fashionistas already knew Frida was unique and ahead of her time. But, what the items in the exhibit show are that despite the disabilities, the monobrow, and the violent depictions of the female anatomy in some of her paintings, Frida Kahlo was a bit of a girlie girl who wore makeup, used perfume and dressed up her prosthetic leg with a red high-heeled boot. Her clothing aimed for style and self-protection but it also made a statement, both political and cultural.
It's a small exhibit with the Casa Azul having just five rooms to show Kahlo's personal belongings. And it's a shame since the items that are shown spark curiosity and hunger to know more about what Frida chose to wear and the style that has lived on so long after her passing. What else was in that closet?
Perhaps to satisfy that curiosity, the curators are planning on rotating parts of the exhibit in five months to show more of the items. The mannequins in one gallery will be switched into new looks and the cabinet of personal items that now includes shoes and jewelry will also be changed.
We can only guess which items they will choose to display – will we get to see all the photographs and love letters? – but ultimately it's the small items that are the most potent offerings: they are what brings her to life and take us beyond the now-familiar image of her self-portraits. From nail polish to medicine, the show's power comes from humanizing an icon and making her a woman we can all relate to.