Frida Kahlo

FRIDA KAHLO: PORTRAITS OF AN ICON

3 February - 26 June 2005
Admission free
Balcony Gallery


Supported by Mexico Tourism Board, National Council for Culture and the Arts of Mexico, CONACULTA, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, SRE, and Mexican Embassy, London

This selection of 50 photographic portraits of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907­54) spans the life of the artist, beginning with a photograph of a four year-old and ending with the image of Kahlo on her deathbed a mere 47 years later. They follow the artist's transition from precocious child to famous artist, documented by photographers including Kahlo's relatives, lovers and friends, many of whom were also accomplished professional photographers. The selection includes both black and white images, and some previously unexhibited works in colour.

On display for the first time in the UK, these portraits bring into focus the painter, the paintings, the patient, the wife, the daughter, the lover and the friend. They permit us to peer into Kahlo's bedroom, sit at her table, visit her hospital room, wander into her garden, view her collections and play with her pets. Some of these photographs conceal as much as they reveal about the woman who described herself as "la gran ocultadora," the great concealer. While most of the images provide us with a glimpse of the woman behind the façade, others, though maybe not so revealing, are equally fascinating in allowing us to view one of the most intriguing of the artist's creations; the construction of a self-image as carefully crafted and conceived as any of the painter's other works of art.

This display brings together the work of some of the most renowned photographers of the twentieth century including Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, Manuel Alvarez Bravo and Martin Munkacsi. Portraits of Kahlo by photojournalists on assignment in Mexico for various publications include those by Gisele Freund, Bernard Silberstein and Fritz Henle, as well as photographs by those who knew Kahlo well, among them her father Guillermo Kahlo, Nickolas Muray and Lola Alvarez Bravo.

The portraits are from the collection of gallerist and specialist in Latin American photographs, Spencer Throckmorton. His dynamic collection was initiated more than two decades ago and includes more than one hundred images of Frida Kahlo, many of them unique.

This display is organised by Throckmorton Fine Art, New York.

Exhibition at Tate Modern
A major exhibition of the work of Frida Kahlo will be shown at Tate Modern from 9 June - 2 October 2005. Further information Ruth Findlay, Tate Modern Press Office, Tel 020 7887 4941

For further press information please contact: Hazel Sutherland, Press Officer, National Portrait Gallery Tel 020 7312 2452 (not for publication) Email hsutherland@npg.org.uk