Copenhagen: Frida Kahlo – A Live In Art

Lady in White by Frida Kahlo
Portrait of Lady in White by Frida Kahlo, 1929. Identified as Adela Formoso de Obregón Santacilia. Photo by Birthe Havmoeller.

If you like photos of Frida Kahlo, go see the exhibtion Frida Kahlo – A Live In Art at Arken Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen. There are more photos of Frida than paintings by her at this exhibition.

The Arken’s press release read: ‘Strong and independent, she (Frida Kahlo) is an inspirational role model. The exhibition offers a look at Kahlo’s oeuvre through a number of her most iconic self-portraits, drawings, pages from her diary as well as jewelry and dresses from her time. The works reflect her tragic life, embracing a horrible traffic accident and countless surgeries, tormented love for the artist Diego Rivera, affairs with both men and women, miscarriages and childlessness, as well as political activism’.

I was hoping that Arken would tell a somewhat queer / feminist story about bisexual Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), but unfornately they told the old story: Frida loves Diego and Diego is a jerk, because he has affairs with other women… and Frida is unhappy.

However, I was happy to see Frida’s Portrait of Lady in White, a painting of feminist activist Adela Formoso de Obregón Santacilia (see above), who fought for the womens rights and was a highly respected woman in Mexico around 1930.

The exhibition, which runs through January 12, 2014, also presentes some of Frida’s colorfull Mexican dresses (see photo below), some of her works on paper, and works by Diego Rivera.

exhibition view

Frida Kahlo – A Live In Art at Arken Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen, Denmark. Exhibition view. Photo by Birthe Havmoeller.

Frida Kahlo: Queer Icon?

Video interview published 18/10/2012 by xtraonline.

Xtra speaks to Dot Tuer, curator of Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting at The Art Gallery of Ontario about Frida Kahlo’s gender bending ways and her status in the queer community. The exhibit runs until Jan 20, 2013.

Catalog: Frida Kahlo Retrospective

Frida Kahlo Retrospective
by Helga Prignitz-Poda, et al.
Prestel, USA, 2010
Exhibition catalog
ISBN-10: 9783791350103
ISBN-13: 978-3791350103
ASIN: 3791350102

Cassandra Langer about the catalog in The Gay and Lesbian Rewiew, March – April 2011, Volume 18, Issue 2: “PUBLISHED last year on the occasion of a major retrospective of Frida Kahlo’s work in the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (2010), and Bank Austria Kunstforum, in Vienna, the Frida Kahlo Retrospective is accompanied by a coffee table-sized catalog. It is a stunningly beautiful book with glorious color and black-and-white illustrations. (…)
Art historian Hayden Herrera notes the dualities in Kahlo’s work: life and death, night and day, sun and moon, male and female. Prignitz-Poda follows up on Herrera’s work using the catalogue as a vehicle to develop her own theory about Kahlo’s fluid sexuality, and finally to reclaim her as heterosexual. The reasons for this claim escape me. The truth is that Kahlo was passionately bisexual and had affairs with both men and women throughout her turbulent marriage to Diego.” (…)

Art historian Cassandra Langer has written a review, ‘Moods Flowing on Canvas’, about the catalog ‘Frida Kahlo Retrospective’ for The Gay and Lesbian Review, a bimonthly Journal of History, Culture, and Politics.

Modern Women – Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art

The opera lovers shout ‘Bravo!’ when they have heard a great opera aria. Eso!! the tango dancers’ acclamation, was the first thought that came to me, when I learned that MoMA has started looking the role, which women has played in the history of Museum of Modern Art in New York and realized that the MoMA has neglected telling the story about the female (feminist) artists. After 5 years of research they have published a richly illustrated art book/lexicon titled: Modern Women – women artists at the Museum of Modern Art. 48 scollars have contributed to the book with essays about women artists.

Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art
The landmark publication ‘Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art’, in which the museum now openly discusses gender issues, and how instrumental women have been in advancing the arts to where they are today, is the greatest piece of art news, which I have heard in 2010. – Now the museum is finally taking all the feminist artists, who have voiced their concern about the museums (subconscious or deliberate) strategy of giving more space and attention to male artists than women artists, seriously.

Works of art made by women (straight, lesbian, queer, white, black, or…) tell very interesting stories. Stories, which shouldn’t be forgotten by the museums and the main stream art world. The fact that MoMA, which is a role model for many museums, is about to set a new standard makes me smile and dance at my computer.

In the video below you can hear Michelle Elligott, museum activist and researcher talk about her work with the book Modern Women – women artists at the Museum of Modern Art.

I haven’t got my copy of the book yet, but I have had a quick look at book’s index of artists, (the “MoMA the hall of fame of female artists”), and I have picked the following artists, which may be of interest to lesbian and queer art lovers:

BERENICE ABBOTT (USA, 1898 – 1991), SADIE BENNING (USA, born 1973), CLAUDE CAHUN (France 1894 – 1954), LEONOR FINI (Italy, 1907 – 1996), SU FRIEDRICH (USA, born 1954), EILEEN GRAY (Ireland, 1878, 1976), GUERRILLA GIRLS (American group of radical feminist artists founded in 1985),
BARBARA HAMMER (USA, born 1939), HANNAH HÖCH (Germany, 1889 – 1978), FRIDA KAHLO (Mexico, 1907 – 1954), KÄTHE KOLLWITZ (Germany 1867 – 1945), GERMAINE KRULL (1897 – 1985), AGNES MARTIN (Canada, 1912 – 2004), TINA MODOTTI (Italy, 1896 – 1942), GEORGIA O’KEEFFE (USA, 1887 – 1986), EMILY ROYSDON (USA, 1977), CINDY SHERMAN (USA, born 1954), JOAN SNYDER (USA, born 1940), GINGER BROOKS TAKAHASHI (USA, born 1977), and RIDYKEULOUS (an American collaborative art project founded by A.L. Steiner and Nicole Eisenman).

For more details go to the list of all the artists in the book at MoMA’s website.

Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art
Cornelia Butler (Editor, Introduction), Alexandra Schwartz (Editor), Griselda Pollock (Introduction)
Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher: The Museum of Modern Art, New York (June 30, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 087070771X
ISBN-13: 978-0870707711