On the 23rd of August I went the V&A Museum to view the Frida Kahlo exhibition titled ‘Making Herself Up’. It was really interesting and inspiring and I learnt a lot about Frida Kahlo.
This exhibition is based on the discovery in 2004 of Frida Kahlo’s personal possessions and clothes, which had previously been locked away after her death. This is the first time they’ve been shown outside of Mexico.
The exhibition started by covering her childhood, and then as we walked through we saw different parts of her life, ending with her death. I feel like this worked really well as it was like you were journeying through her life.
There were a few art forms involved: her paintings and sketches, her photography, and her dresses/outfit choices, which was another way in which she expressed herself artistically. I really liked looking at her outfits and thought it was really incredible that they looked in such good condition, with all the colours still bright and vibrant. I loved the patterns in the dresses and how the contrasting colours really stood out. Frida Kahlo was seen as very
unique at the time and many of the designs and patterns were based upon nature e.g. flowers, just like in her paintings.
I’ve been to other art exhibitions before, in galleries or museums, which were similar to this exhibition in that people have the chance to look at artwork or items on display or read about them. At this exhibition however I didn’t expect to see so many items that Frida Kahlo actually used, I would of thought they would have made more replicas rather than the real items. For example, there were half finished bottles of perfume and nail- varnish. These touches really took you back in time, imagining her using them.
I think that this exhibition was really great in showing people more of Frida Kahlo, what drove her and influenced her art. There was a lot of information about her life and what she went through. I learnt that she contracted polio as a child, which meant that in order for her to walk she had to wear a leg brace. Also, when she was 18 she was very badly injured in a bus crash, impaled by the rail. She had around 35 surgeries and always wearing different types of corsets; she also couldn’t have children after the accident. She once stated,
“I am not sick, I am broken. But am happy to be alive as long as I can paint.”
This shows that she really found a lot of happiness in painting.
I also learnt from this exhibition how much symbolism she used in her paintings, based on her life and in particular her health problems and how she viewed them. For example in her painting The Broken Column, she paints herself injured but defiant, her spine a crumbling column, nails piercing her body, and a broken, crumbling landscape in the
background. Yet she sits tall, with a proud expression on her face.
Similarly, in her painting Tree of Hope, she paints two versions of herself, one lying on a hospital bed, the other self sitting proudly, holding a flag with the motto strength and perseverance.
To improve it, I feel like it would have been good if more of her paintings and artwork were shown, as while there were some, most of the exhibition was made up of items and photos from her life. Her paintings were a big part of her life and work as an artist, and they have so much meaning behind them. But aside from that I thought it was very interesting, and it really showed her strong individuality and uniqueness, and how this was expressed in her art and in the way she dressed.
After seeing this exhibition I feel very inspired, seeing how much hardship she went through but still achieved so much in her life and as an artist. I would really recommend going to see this as it’s very interesting and I really enjoyed learning more about Frida Kahlo.