Frida in Paris: The Clothes, The Exhibition, The Affair

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Frida in Paris: The Clothes, The Exhibition, The Affair
Frida Kahlo, the Mexican artist whose life and art command an iconic status few other women can claim, may need no introduction in 2023. Her extraordinary biography inspired Salma Hayek’s film Frida (2002). Her unique face and fashion statements grace countless covers of books, posters, mugs, and kitschy incarnations. For most of her professional career, she was considered an “artist’s wife” who dabbled in her own studio. Today, she is one of Mexico’s best known national treasures, especially in Paris, where her sold-out exhibition at the Palais Galliera more than makes up for her 1939 Parisian disappointments. However, the theme of this much-anticipated solo show is not her heart-wrenching self-portraits that most of her fans admire. Instead, this show focuses on her carefully curated image that blended her nationalistic pride with the need for cosmetic disguises. Frida Kahlo by Toni Frissell, US Vogue 1937. © Toni Frissell, Vogue / Condé Nast Frida Kahlo: Au-Delà des Apparences (Beyond Appearances) at the Palais Galliera, the Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris, marks the 84th anniversary of Frida’s one and only trip to Paris from January 21 – March 24, 1939. Composed of over 200 objects, this extraordinary display of Frida’s clothes, jewelry, make up, corsets, shoes, and one prosthetic, surrounded by photos, paintings, and photographs, maps the intersection between her private and public personas. “Beyond Appearances” means that here we will learn more about Frida than her numerous confessional self-portraits seem to convey. Bottines customisées en satin. Customised silk ankle boots. © Museo Frida Kahlo – Casa Azul collection – Javier Hinojosa, 2017 Unfortunately, this magnificent Frida Kahlo exhibition, which opened on September 15, 2022 and closes on March 5, 2023, sold out well in advance of its finale. Therefore, this review tries to offer a bit of consolation through the numerous photos and links to the video tours in English and in French. In addition, I highly recommend the catalogues, in French and English, which provide rich educational commentaries about the history of modern art in Mexico, Frida’s life, and her possessions. Through these virtual opportunities, you learn about the curators’ perspectives which shape this particular approach to an alternative Frida Kahlo-lore. I also recommend Frida Kahlo: Her Universe, published by the Frida Kahlo Museum in 2022. The photos, essays, and insights seamlessly intertwine the art and archives Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera left behind in their Casa Azul (The Blue House), now the Frida Kahlo Museum, opened to the public in 1958. The Frida Kahlo Museum (La Casa Azul), Coyoacán, Mexico City, Mexico

Lead photo credit : The Frame, Frida Kahlo, 1938 © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Jean-Claude Planchet © Banco de México D. Rivera F. Kahlo Museums Trust / ADAGP, Paris 2022

More in exhibition, Frida Kahlo, history

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Beth S. Gersh-Nešić, Ph.D. is an art historian and the director of the New York Arts Exchange, an arts education service that offers tours and lectures in the New York tristate area. She specializes in the study of Cubism and has published on the art criticism of Apollinaire’s close friend, poet/art critic/journalist André Salmon. She teaches art history at Mercy College in Westchester, New York. She published a book with French poet/literary critic Jean-Luc Pouliquen called "Transatlantic Conversation: About Poetry and Art." Her most recent book is a translation and annotation of "Pablo Picasso, André Salmon and 'Young French Painting,'" with an introduction by Jacqueline Gojard.


  •  Marilyn Brouwer
    2023-03-07 09:18:01
    Marilyn Brouwer
    I so enjoyed this article on the wonderful Frida Khalo Beth. Intriguing and fascinating as always.


    • Beth Gersh-Nesic
      2023-03-08 07:37:02
      Beth Gersh-Nesic
      Thank you so much, Marilyn. Your article on the American Hospital is spectacular! Thank you so much for honoring Dr. Sumner Jackson in this beautiful history of the AH.