Frida Kahlo: from La Casa Azul to South Ken
If 21st century museums are to broaden our knowledge through immersive experiences, then Victoria and Albert Museum's recent groundbreaking exhibitions rank among the most successful.
Thanks to the likes of David Bowie Is in 2013, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty in 2015, and the very recent Opera: Passion, Power and Politics, visitors have fully embraced a series of chronological odysseys spanning the worlds of music, fashion, art and design. With huge numbers attending (David Bowie Is clocked 312,000 visitors to its London show, while Savage Beauty smashed all V&A records with nearly 500,000 visits and extended night-time openings) the healthy public appetite for this kind of cultural experience was clear. Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up looks set to be the next blockbuster in this line.
This will be the first ever exhibition outside of Mexico to display the artist's colourful clothes, works and intimate possessions. More than 200 objects from Kahlo's home, the Blue House, will be displayed in an installation that will truthfully reimagine the place where she was born, lived and died.
Through film and photography, we will be transported through a visual narrative of Kahlo's childhood, right through to her turbulent marriage to Mexican painter and muralist, Diego Rivera. And if it's her singular look that intrigues you, we get to step inside Kahlo's private closet to view once-hidden outfits ( her husband locked them away with strict instructions that they stay under wraps until after his own death), letters, jewellery, cosmetics, medicines and medical corsets. The eclectic collection was in fact only discovered in 2004, although Rivera passed away in 1957, just three years after Kahlo.
Kahlo's highly stylised appearance owed a lot to a bout of childhood polio, followed by a devastating, near-fatal bus crash at the age of 18 that left her frequently bed-bound and immobile. She empowered herself through dress – namely her hand-painted medical corsets – and self-portraiture, using a mirror inset into the canopy of her four-poster bed. Much more was understood about Kahlo's accident after the discovery of the objects in the Blue House and if the V&A's track record is anything to go by, we are in for one almighty Kahlo resurrection.
To make the most of this sensorial journey through Kahlo's life, you can attend a special breakfast and behind-the-scenes talk on 'Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up' at the V&A, on the 18th of June, hosted by Quintessentially's Ben Elliot and Claire Wilcox, Senior Curator of Fashion at the V&A and co-curator of the exhibition. This breakfast event is complimentary. Contact your Lifestyle Manager for more details on how to secure your place.