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Exhibition | Frida Kahlo at the V&A

Exhibition | Frida Kahlo at the V&A

Parka London in Lifestyle

Words by Rose
CATEGORY - IN Lifestyle
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For the first time in 50 years, since the death of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, her worldly possessions are being exhibited outside of Mexico. London’s Victoria and Albert museum has become home to her personal affects, art and photography, depicting the story of her short but extraordinary life.
Shalimar scent by Guerlain belonging to Frida Kahlo. photograph by Javier Hinojosa
Shalimar scent by Guerlain belonging to Frida Kahlo. photograph by Javier Hinojosa

The exhibition walks us through Frida’s early years and family tree. Born in 1907, she spent her youth exploring her identity and rich heritage – born to a German father and Spanish-Indian mother but raised in Mexico. As one of four sisters, Frida wasn’t afraid to experiment with gender fluidity and was even photographed wearing one of her father’s three-piece suits. She confidently showed off her infamous monobrow and facial hair in her art work despite having commented on the ‘masculinity’ of these features and her lack of ‘conventional beauty’.


Frida also became fascinated with Mexican folk culture and adopted the traditional dress and hair style as a teenager – braiding her long hair with colourful ribbons and floral decorations. Her clothing was bright, colourful and intricately detailed, completed with extravagant costume jewellery, reflecting her family’s wealth. Frida’s style and unique beauty not only became the focus of her own self-portraits but the work of renowned photographers too, even being shot for French Vogue while exhibiting in Paris.

Frida Kahlo photographed by Nickolas Muray and Self-portrait as a Tehuana by Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo photographed by Nickolas Muray and Self-portrait as a Tehuana by Frida Kahlo

Despite the colour and flamboyance of Frida’s style, her long, floating skirts and square cut tunic blouses were also used to disguise several physical disabilities and deformities. Frida suffered from childhood polio, leaving one of her legs severely damaged and significantly shorter than the other. Later in life she went on to have the limb amputated. Not to be defeated though, Frida had a prosthetic leg commissioned, complete with highly decorated footwear.


When Frida was 18 years old she was involved in a near fatal tram accident which left her bed ridden and with life altering spinal damage. She was resigned to wearing surgical corsets to protect her posture and bone structure. Unable to attend medical school as originally intended, Frida had a mirror installed above her bed so she could paint her corsets and continue her self-portraits.

Prosthetic leg and lace-up boot belonging to Frida Kahlo and Plaster corset painted by Frida Khalo. Photographs by Javier Hinojosa
Prosthetic leg and lace-up boot belonging to Frida Kahlo and Plaster corset painted by Frida Khalo. Photographs by Javier Hinojosa
Sadly, Frida could never be relieved of her pain and suffering and a series of operations on her spine causing infection lead to her untimely death at the age of 47 in 1954. Her husband and fellow artist Diego Rivera opened up Frida’s family home, the house they shared - La Casa Azul - in 1958 as a museum dedicated to her life.


50 years on we are all invited to spend a little time in the colourful, surreal world of Frida Kahlo.


Kahlo: Making Herself Up. V&A museum, London until Sunday 4th November 2018. Booking is essential.

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