The Complete Works of Frida Kahlo. Kind of.

Being a women’s history fan and a museum professional, I found this story very interesting. An exhibition titled The Complete Frida Kahlo. Her Paintings. Her Life. Her Story is making it’s North American debut in San Diego. It’s appeal: it has for the first-time ever (and probably forever) pretty much all of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s paintings, sketches, etc. in one place. They are also alongside her clothes and furniture. The catch is that they are all replicas.


I have to say, I want to see this. And I am not at all put off by the fact that they are replicas. I think this exhibition is breaking the mold and showing that art is also a human production. History museums and history exhibitions have been displaying replicas and “of the time period but not original to the house” objects forever. I find it very refreshing that someone made the decision to do this with fine art.

And I can think of no better artist than Frida Kahlo to take this leap. Her work and her life are so intertwined with her biography, the history of Mexico, the international art scene, Modernism, on and on. You can not study or appreciate Kahlo’s work with out understanding history or her biography. She is a icon and just as this co-curator states in the interview…she’s crazy about Frida. Everyone is.

The work of Frida Kahlo is a great example of an artist whose body of work is so dispersed across the globe that audiences will never be able to see it all together. So, even if they are replicas, to see the complete oeuvre of the Grandmother of the Feminist Art Movement in one place, I have to support that.

Here is an interview of one of the co-curators:

5 thoughts on “The Complete Works of Frida Kahlo. Kind of.

  1. Fabulous! I would love to get there to see this too…maybe, one day, we won't actually have to “get” anywhere to see amazing exhibits like this. Maybe museums can do this online or even “loan” such exhibits to other museums that can project them from digital walls…I see this as possibly the first step into a very different future for museums. And I agree, Kahlo is the perfect artist for this.


  2. I am part of the PR/marketing team for this exhibition and I am really proud to be a part of this beautiful effort. I have watched a lot of visitors be completely absorbed in this exhibition, and I have been inspired to read all about Frida Kahlo. Thank you for this enlightened blog


  3. Melissa – what an interesting thought – virtual exhibits at a museum displayed on their wall (instead of online). This could go so many places. Frida is perfect for this, her work is about power and politics, not so much about technical skill. To understand her work you have to be overpowered by her work – and seeing one Frida Painting in real life is great, but to have an overload of all her tragic, painful, controversial work surround you in one place? I think Frida would approve. She wanted her work to physically affect you, and this exhibition, though replicas, might finally accomplish that in a way hanging one real Frida painting on a wall next to all the other Modernists never really has.


  4. Delle – I want you to know I am writing a blog post on the show for the association I work for too, AASLH. I'm citing our exchange in my disclaimer. As you know, I'm a fan of this show for many reasons, and I wanted to bring it to the attention of the history museum audience because I think it offers a great study of how “art” can work for “history museums.” Thanks! You can reach me at price(a) if you want me to send you the blog article.


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