From February 1st, Mudec (Museum of Cultures) in Milan hosts an exhibition of the greatest Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. Frida is considered an icon, a woman marked by pain and suffering that has not only contributed to the emancipation of women but has also made possible the spread of Mexican art all over the world.
All the works come from the Museo Dolores Olmedo of Mexico City and the Collection Jacques and Natasha Gelman, undoubtedly the largest collections in the world of this great artist. This is an exhibition that totally differs from all those seen previously, especially thanks to the numerous unpublished works found in 2007 in her house in Azul, the house where Frida was born and where she then moved with her husband Diego Rivera after the death of her parents.
The exhibition describes the life of Frida through a path that winds through four rooms, each one dedicated to a different theme: Woman, Earth, Politics and Pain.
The first room, dedicated to the figure of the woman, welcomes visitors with a drawing on paper: “Appearance can be deceiving“. Why this name? Because Frida loved dressing in very eye-catching clothes that reflected the joy she was trying to show, but appearance deceives when the dress hides the suffering that has marked her throughout her life. Frida shows her destroyed body, her broken column, the title of a work that we’ll find in the last section dedicated to pain.
Third of four sisters, Frida was born in Mexico City on July 6th, 1907, from a German father and a Mexican mother. The young girl’s childhood is turned upside down at only 18 due to an accident when she came home from school. Because of this terrible accident Frida suffers a long hospitalization and subsequent convalescence, slowly starting to devote herself to painting.
Thanks to her future husband, Diego Rivera, Frida’s works are noticed by some of the most important exponents of French Impressionism and then exhibited in New York in 1938 in Julien Levy’s art gallery.
The second room is dedicated to the Earth, to the relationship that Frida has with her beloved Mexico. The most striking work is undoubtedly “The love embrace the universe, the earth (Mexico), Diego, me and Senor Xólot” which represents a concatenation of hugs. The universe warmly embraces the mother earth, the earth embraces Frida and finally Frida holds in her arms a young Diego.
Other works in this room:
Before entering the third room is shown a movie of Frida and Diego, images that portray them happy together even as we know the relationship between the two has always been tormented that Frida said: “I have suffered two grave accidents in my life, one in which a streetcar knocked me down… The other accident is Diego.“
The third room is dedicated to the theme of politics, mainly centered around the figure of Diego, whose art is made of politics. Diego is a great painter, he attended the Academy of Fine Arts, won numerous scholarships and met the greatest painters of that time, including Picasso. In 1922, Minister Vasconcelos instructs the people by building schools in the countryside and designated Diego Rivera to create large murals showing the history of pre-Hispanic Mexico using a strongly popular language so that people can understand.
Frida used to follow Diego in the United States but for her this land was Gringolandia, the Americans represented the Gringos she hated so much and she was homesick of her land. This can be seen from one of the most important paintings in this room: “Self Portrait Along the Boarder Line Between Mexico and the United States“. This painting seems to be divided into two parts, on one hand the capitalism of America while on the other her native country. Frida in the center holds the flag of Mexico to symbolize the closeness and nostalgia for this land.
“I must fight with all my strength so that the little positive things that my health allows me to do might be pointed toward helping the revolution. The only real reason for living”
The fourth and final room is dedicated to the pain that accompanied Frida throughout her “short” life. Here we find “The Broken Column“, the most famous painting of the painter, whose sketch was present at the entrance to the exhibition. Frida’s pain is not only physical, it’s a pain that goes beyond and can be noticed by the change in the style of her paintings. Frida represents herself intent on cutting her long black hair when she finds out that her husband Diego has cheated on her with her sister Cristina.
Frida has lived a tormented life, the pain gave her no peace but she has found her care in painting. The exhibition represents a Frida beyond appearances, a Frida never seen before.
“I hope the exit is joyful and I hope never to return”
FRIDA. OLTRE IL MITO
Where: MUDEC – Museo delle Culture, via Tortona 56, Milan