Frida Kahlo%3A Making Her Self Up

This summer, the V&A in London will explore how Frida Kahlo, one of the most recognised and significant artists and women of the 20th century, fashioned her identity.

Running from 16th June until 4th November, Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up will reportedly be the first exhibition outside of Mexico to display her clothes and intimate possessions. These will be reunited with key self-portraits and photographs to offer a fresh perspective on her compelling life story.

Jewellery, outfits, letters

Working in close collaboration with the Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico (known as the Blue House), the V&A will display more than 200 of Kahlo’s personal items including outfits, letters, jewellery, cosmetics, medicines and medical corsets.

These were discovered in 2004, 50 years after being sealed in the Blue House by her husband Diego Rivera, the Mexican muralist, following her death in 1954.

Exploring Kahlo’s highly choreographed appearance and style, the exhibition will include 22 distinctive colourful Tehuana garments; pre-Columbian necklaces that Frida strung herself; examples of intricately hand painted corsets; and prosthetics which will be displayed alongside film and photography of the artist as a visual narrative of her life.

Included in Kahlo’s make-up selection is her eyebrow pencil ‘Ebony,’ still within its original packaging, which she used to emphasise her signature mono brow, a defining feature of her self-portraits.

Her vividly-coloured cosmetics are striking in the celebrated portraits by photographer Nickolas Muray which show her wearing many of the clothes on display (lead image).

Claire Wilcox, senior curator of fashion at the V&A and exhibition co-curator, said: “A countercultural and feminist symbol, this show will offer a powerful insight into how Frida Kahlo constructed her own identity. This show is a rare opportunity for visitors, offering unique access to an archive that has never left Mexico before.”

Advance booking is advised to the exhibition is advised, and group tickets can be bought by calling 020-7942 2000.

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Pictured: Frida Kahlo on a bench, carbon print, 1938. (Photo credit: Nickolas Muray, The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of 20th Century Mexican Art and The Verge, Nickolas Muray Photo Archives).