Photographic Memories

Frida Kahlo’s Photo Collection 

Whether she has captivated you or not, chances are that the imagery of Frida Kahlo and her art have—at some point—entered your field of vision. The visual legacy of this groundbreaking artist whose mythic life is probably just as well known as her surrealistic art continues to live on: She was one of the few, noted female artists who had recognition when she was alive, she was likely one of the first to don a flower crown before the Coachella crew took it over, she painted selfies, she cross-dressed and wore suits inspired by her father. Her shawl, maxi skirt, braid and hair parted in the middle combination might as well have a trademark attached to it. The trailblazing, badass, bisexual Mexican was also the daughter of a German immigrant to Mexico, so that makes her near and dear to our transatlantic hearts.

Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California, currently has a collection of photos on display which give an intimate glimpse into the personal life of Frida Kahlo. “Frida Kahlo—Her Photos,” which has been traveling around the world over the last couple of years (with its premiere in 2007), presents her photograph collection of her friends, family, landscapes, politics, art, nature and history. When she died, her husband, Diego Rivera, locked away this photo collection in Kahlo’s family home in Mexico City, Casa Azul. More than 50 years later, these photos were shown to the public. Pablo Ortiz Monasterio curated “Frida Kahlo—Her Photos” in which all of the 240 photos are the first and only prints made from the originals. 

"The opening of the archives of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera gave light to the wealth of the historical moment that surrounded these well-known personages throughdocuments, photographs and objects. “Frida Kahlo—Her Photos” is a result of this. The exhibition reveals a Frida that is intellectual, fascinating and charismatic as well as herintimate world and the complex national and international environment she experiencedin her life,” said Hilda Trujillo, Director of The Frida Kahlo and The Diego Rivera Anahuacalli Museums.

While the photos were taken by Frida herself and other creatives around her, Frida sometimes left personal touches on the prints like a faded kiss mark next to the image of Diego Rivera. It’s one of the rare opportunities for a Frida fan to experience the world through her eyes, especially as she held onto certain moments caught in print.

And despite the tragedies she endured, and a life lived in the shadow of her husband’s career, it is Frida, today, who still manages to charm and inspire the world through her eyes. For this short moment in time at the Bowers Museum, it’s through her “photographic” memories.  

Frida Kahlo—Her Photos is on display at the Bowers Museum of Art until June 25, 2017 and continues on at the University of New Mexico Art Museum in Albuquerque, NM on August 25, 2017.