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"Frida Kahlo: Images of an Icon"
2007-02-04 until 2007-06-10
Tacoma Art Museum
Tacoma, WA, USA United States of America

Tacoma Art Museum’s exhibition Frida Kahlo: Images of an Icon presents some sixty photographic portraits of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo taken throughout her life. Beginning with childhood and ending with the image of Kahlo on her deathbed, these portraits bring into focus the painter, the patient, the wife, the daughter, the lover, and the friend. The exhibition will be on view February 3 through June 10, 2007. “Frida was, and continues to be, a source of fascination and inspiration,” said Director Stephanie Stebich, who curates the exhibition. “She was not only known for her art, but also for her striking appearance, her radical politics, her stormy marriage to artist Diego Rivera, and her lifelong health problems. All of it was captured in the camera lens, in entrancing formal and informal portraits.”

Kahlo’s life story was portrayed on film by her father, her husband, her lovers, and her friends, as well as prominent photojournalists and photographers of the time. At an early age, she became aware of the beauty and magic of photography, as both her paternal grandfather and father were professional photographers. Her early familiarity with the camera and experience posing for photographs gave her a keen understanding of how to craft an image and construct an identity in front of the lens.

The exhibition includes work by such modern masters of photography as Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, Lucienne Bloch, Florence Arquin, and Manuel Alvarez Bravo, as well as leading photojournalists such as Giselle Freund, Bernard Silberstein, and Fritz Henle. Kahlo’s relatives, lovers, and friends, including Guillermo Kahlo, Nickolas Muray, and Lola Alvarez Bravo, were witness to a more intimate Frida. The photographs are both black and white images, and some previously unshown works in color.

Some of these photographs mask as much as they reveal about the woman who described herself as "la gran ocultadora," the great concealer. While many images provide a glimpse of the woman behind the façade, others are equally fascinating in allowing a view into one of the most intriguing of Frida’s creations: the construction of her self-image as carefully crafted as any of her other works of art.

The portraits are from the collection of Spencer Throckmorton, a specialist in Latin American photographs. His dynamic collection started more than two decades ago and includes more than 100 images of Frida Kahlo, many of them unique. A selection from his collection was recently on view at the National Portrait Gallery in London. To meet popular demand, the gallery extended the exhibition by almost a month, from May 30 to June 26, 2005.  

An ancillary component to the Tacoma Art Museum presentation features about a dozen pieces by Northwest artists who have been inspired by Kahlo, the artist and icon. Existing and newly created artwork by Randy Hayes, Alfredo Arreguin, Jim Riswold, and others will show Kahlo’s continued influence in today’s contemporary art.

This exhibition is organized by Throckmorton Fine Art, New York. Local support is generously provided by Helen and Peter Bing and The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.

Tacoma Art Museum connects people and builds community through art. The museum serves the diverse communities of the region through its collection, exhibitions, and learning programs, emphasizing art and artists from the Northwest. The museum’s five galleries display an array of top national shows, the best of Northwest art, creatively themed exhibitions, and historical retrospectives. In addition, there is an Education Wing for children, adults, and seniors with an art resource center, classroom, and studio for art making. Tacoma Art Museum is located in Tacoma’s Museum District, near the Museum of Glass, the Washington State History Museum, and historic Union Station.

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