The Easties decided to have an outing to the Frida Kahlo exhibition last Tuesday – we had agreed the date some time ago and just by chance we more or less chose the hottest day of the year. However, a few of us had a nice ride to and from London in a newish, air-conditioned train and the V&A itself was cool. By the time we emerged from the exhibition the rain had begun to fall and 5 of us could be found sitting in the central courtyard garden balancing trays on our heads as makeshift umbrellas.
The Frida Kahlo exhibition, Making Her Self Up, was more about Frida Kahlo herself and her iconic appearance rather than her art, many of the exhibits being her personal effects which had been locked away for many years. Some may say “would this be what she would have wanted” – people looking at her corsets and her artificial leg rather than her art. I think if you didn’t know much about Frida Kahlo’s art before you went to the exhibition, you wouldn’t know much more about it afterwards.
Nevertheless, despite all the suffering and pain that she suffered in her life through polio and her accident and subsequent amputation of her leg, she had an extraordinary life. I bought a copy of her illustrated dairy some years ago which documents the last ten years of her life. Covering the years 1944-54, the diary contains Frida’s thoughts, poems and reflects her stormy relationship with her husband, Diego Rivera. During her lifetime Diego was the more famous artist but in death I think more people have probably heard about Frida than Diego.
In her diary she portrays herself with a broken classical column for a spine – below is a small Frida Kahlo figure that I made and stands in my workroom.