Kahlo: An Expanded Body
November 19, 2022–April 2, 2023
Kahlo: An Expanded Body is a groundbreaking investigation into iconic artist Frida Kahlo (Mexican, 1907-1954) through the lens of her dramatic medical history and its sustained impact on her life and work. The multi-gallery exhibition provides new insight into the importance of the body to Kahlo as enduring source material for representational and metaphorical depictions of her physical and emotional life.
The exhibition features more than 100 objects—some never before seen—made available through exclusive access to private family files by Kahlo’s grandniece, the Mexican artist Cristina Kahlo. On view are facsimiles of personal letters and postcards between Frida and family, friends, lovers, and doctors; photographs of the artist and her inner circle by Mexican and international photographers including Lola Álvarez Bravo, Florence Arquin, Gisele Freund, Guillermo Kahlo, Antonio Kahlo, and Nickolas Muray; and extensive graphic medical records and documents. Original work by Cristina Kahlo that interprets Frida’s life through the lens of her health challenges augments the exhibition.
Kahlo: An Expanded Body opens with a chronicle of Kahlo’s stays at the American British Cowdray (ABC) Hospital in Mexico City depicted through images of the facility’s staff, exterior, and interior—including the operating room where many of her procedures took place.
Throughout her life, Kahlo transformed aspects of her body—the heart, torso, mouth—into recurring images in her work. An entire gallery is dedicated to the heart through a variety of representational and metaphorical depictions, including a 30-inch red fabric heart by María and Tolita Figueroa. Other works address matters of the heart through images of the artist with those she held dear: family and childhood photos; group photographs from the 1930s through ‘50s featuring her husband Diego Rivera.
The artist’s body is further represented with Julien Levy’s 1938 photographs of Kahlo’s nude torso. Blood— a frequent element in Kahlo’s work—is often painted in one of her favorite colors, Carmine red. It appears in a more intimate context through her own red lipstick kisses that decorate photos, letters, and postcards.
The exhibition includes an interactive educational component featuring a bed mimicking the painting The Dream (the Bed), 1940; and a table with art supplies for children to make portraits and create postcards to share in a community art initiative.
Kahlo: An Expanded Body is organized by Parrish Art Museum Executive Director Mónica Ramírez-Montagut and Guest Curator Cristina Kahlo-Alcala, with support from Guest Assistant Curator Javier Roque Vázquez Juarez, Curatorial Assistant and Publications Coordinator Kaitlin Halloran, and Curatorial Fellow Brianna L. Hernández.
The presentation of Kahlo: An Expanded Body at the Parrish Art Museum is made possible, in part, thanks to the generous support of the Consulate General of Mexico in New York, Museo Frida Kahlo, ABC Medical Center, Museo Estudio Diego Rivera, Fiduciario Banco de México, Tony Bechara, The Deborah Buck Foundation, Yaffa Foundation, Mex-Am Cultural Foundation, Sam Natapoff and Alexandra Stanton, Yanina and Allan Spivack, Michael and Nina Stanton Foundation, Timothy and Susan Davis, and Kelli and James Stanton.
The Parrish Art Museum’s programs are made possible, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, and by the property taxpayers from the Southampton School District and the Tuckahoe Common School District.