In Milan, new exhibition celebrates life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo

Hispanic Heritage Month

This new interactive exhibit in Milan is inviting visitors to experience the home of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

The three rooms in which the artist spent the most time in Casa Azul, the famous Mexican mansion built in French style by Guillermo Kahlo in 1904, have been reproduced in detail.  

In her bedroom, for example, visitors can see how the mirror placed on her bed ceiling allowed her to paint self-portraits.  

As a young woman, Kahlo was involved in a near-fatal bus crash.

She had to wear a series of corsets throughout her life to deal with the serious spinal injuries she suffered.

Later, her leg was amputated, due to poor circulation.

But her disabilities did not stop her art — in fact, they inspired it.

Kahlo decorated the plaster casts that bound her back, using a mirror to guide her painting.

Visitors can explore her studio, including her pastels and paints, as well as the view of the outdoors.   

Eventually, visitors are immersed in her garden, the entrance of Casa Azul as it is today.  

“In this exhibit, we thought more about Frida’s life, rather than her art, her paintings,” explains co-curator Alejandra Matiz.

“We wanted to show her room in which she spent hours and hours painting, Frida’s studio, the entrance of Casa Azul with its garden. It is kind of like walking around Casa Azul. And then we took advantage of the fact that we live in the 21st century and used multimedia in all ways possible to present the exhibit this way.”

The exhibit continues with a section dedicated to Diego Rivera. Here, the most evocative letters that Frida wrote to her husband are reproduced.

Kahlo is now considered one of the most significant artists of the 20th century.

She had some success during her own lifetime but was mainly known as the wife of fellow artist Diego Rivera.

But in the decades since her death, her star has eclipsed her husband’s.

Kahlo’s preoccupation with her own image and her unique sense of style are celebrated with items from her jewellery box and a selection of costumes recreated in her style.

“I brought these dresses to exemplify and explain as easily as possible Frida Kahlo’s taste in clothes,” explains designer and co-curator Milagros Ancheita.

“Because Frida Kahlo used fashion not only to present herself or as many writers said, to hide her physical flaws, but she also used it as a means of expression of her political ideologies.”

From mixed modern indigenous clothing, to typical Tehuana dresses, Kahlo celebrated her Mexican identity and indigenous heritage.

“The one I like the most is one that is a mix – it is a replica, it is the dress that was created to look as much as possible to the one she wore in a picture taken in New York by Nickolas Muray in 1939,” says Ancheita.

“He took a photograph that later, in 2012, was published by Vogue Mexico and that photograph became iconic.”

A selection of Kahlo’s self-portraits are reproduced in digital form, her image on international stamps also form part of the exhibit.

Finally, visitors are invited to embark on an immersive VR experience that recounts Kahlo’s life.  

The exhibition “Frida Kahlo – The chaos inside” runs from Oct. 10 to March 28, 2021 at Fabbrica del Vapore in Milan.   

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