Frida Kahlo: Portrait of an icon

Frida Kahlo leaving Church. Coyoacán, Mexico. by Fritz Henle, 1937 - © Reproduction authorised by the estate of the artist

Frida Kahlo leaving Church
Coyoacán, Mexico.
by Fritz Henle, 1937
© Reproduction authorised by the estate of the artist

Past display archive
3 February - 24 July 2005

Balcony Gallery

Free

This selection of 50 photographic portraits of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907-54) spans the life of the artist, beginning with a photograph of a two year-old and ending with the image of Kahlo on her deathbed. They follow the artist's transition from child to famous artist, documented by photographers including Kahlo's relatives, lovers and friends, many of whom were also 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

Frida paints self portrait while Diego watches by Bernard Silberstein, 1940 - © Reproduction authorised by the estate of the artist

Frida paints self portrait while Diego watches
by Bernard Silberstein, 1940
© Reproduction authorised by the estate of the artist

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 Gisèle 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.

Publication
A fully illustrated book, Frida Kahlo: Portraits of an Icon, with text by Margaret Hook, is published by Bloomsbury, price £40, hardback.

Supported byFrida Kahlo Sponsors