London: Frida Kahlo’s eyebrow pencil, lipstick, clothes and prosthetic leg are among the Mexican artist’s personal belongings going on show in London, the first time her possessions will be on display outside her home country.
More than 200 items from the “Blue House”, the home Kahlo shared with her muralist husband Diego Rivera in Mexico City, will be showcased in “Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up” at the Victoria and Albert museum.
A trove of Kahlo’s belongings was found in the “Blue House”, now a museum, in 2004, some 50 years after they were hidden away by Rivera following Kahlo’s death in 1954 from pneumonia at the age of 47.
Her colourful embroidered outfits, jewellery and cosmetics such as the eyebrow pencil she used to highlight her mono brow, red nail varnish and red lipstick are on show.
“We see Frida as the person, Frida the artist but also the woman,” Circe Henestrosa, exhibition co-curator, told Reuters.
“I met Frida personally for the first time when I went through her archive, and I found a woman who loved perfume, who loved to dress up, who didn’t let her disabilities define her but she defined who she was in her own terms.”
Kahlo, whose self-portraits celebrated Mexican tradition, suffered a bout of polio when she was a child that left one of her legs thinner. At 18, she broke her spine in a bus accident. Her leg was later amputated. Kahlo dressed her prosthetic leg in a red leather boot with embroidered dragon motifs (on show at the museum).
In the exhibition, which opens on Saturday, Kahlo’s belongings are paired with pictures of the artist in the same attire.
“We wanted to establish her relationship between art and dress because she mainly did self-portraits and she portrayed herself wearing all this Mexican garments,” Henestrosa said.