Heard Museum showcases Frida Kahlo’s life, art and family through her private photographs


Video by Sierra LaDuke and Lerman Montoya

In perfect timing with Dia de los Muertos festivities, the Heard Museum unveiled its latest exhibition showcasing the photographs of world-renowned Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

“Frida Kahlo: Her Photos” opened to the public Saturday morning. The exhibit features 241 images from the 6,500 that are part of the Blue House archive from the Museo Frida Kahlo in Mexico City.

The 241 photographs are organized into six main subjects within the exhibit: “The Origins,” “The Blue House,” “Politics,” “Revolutions and Diego,” “Her Broken Body” and “Frida’s Loves and Photography.” Images selected include self-portraits as well as photos of Kahlo’s husband Diego Rivera, notable international politicians and Mexican film celebrities.

Museum curator Janet Cantley said the images and the exhibit serve as an inside look into Kahlo’s life and how she used photography as a means to escape solitude.

“Frida’s father, Guillermo Kahlo, was a self-portrait photographer and showed Frida how to master the art of self-portrait photography,” Cantley said. “You can even say he was the original mastermind behind the selfie. You can also see and almost feel the same piercing stare that both Guillermo and Frida had through their self-portraits.”

The exhibit has made stops in museums across the United States and around the world. It’ll head to New Zealand after wrapping up in Phoenix.

Rui Pereira, one of the traveling coordinators for the exhibit, said the interest in Frida’s photography has been popular around the globe.

“It’s been highly accepted even in countries where you wouldn’t think it would be. I didn’t expect us to be traveling with Frida’s work to places from New Zealand,” Pereira said.

The Heard Museum collaborated with local art group Phoenix Fridas to assemble a display of items that represent Kahlo to accompany the main exhibition. The display includes pieces of clothing Kahlo wore and artistic pieces such as ceramic animal figures that offer a better understanding of her lifestyle and who she was as an artist.

The exhibit will continue on to early February. For November’s First Friday, the museum will feature the work of local dance choreographer Liliana Gomez, who has prepared six different performances as tribute to Kahlo’s legendary works. And in December, the Heard Museum will host “¡Fiesta con Frida!” where attendees can try foods from Kahlo’s favorite recipes.

“The (dance) performances are an opportunity to showcase Frida’s lifetime through dance in a creative way, almost for people to have a vision of what that time was like for Frida,” Gomez said.

Reservations for events will be available online only and more information on the exhibit can at the Heard Museum’s website at http://heard.org/exhibits/frida-kahlo-her-photos.

Correction: November 2, 2015: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified a source. The curator quoted in the story is Janet Cantley, not Jaclyn Roessel.

Contact the reporter at akramera@asu.edu