Saturday, July 31, 2021

Frida Kahlo Timeless exhibit/catalogue

(CCMA 2021) This exhibit, held kind of insanely at the College of Dupage's art museum, has been criticized because the town did a bunch of Frida Fever weird things, and because possibly the auxiliary parts of the exhibit (including the children's area, complete with a docent in Frida drag and one of those things where your stick your faces into Frida and Diego's cutout picture) seem weird. While I actually think the curatorship and even the family activities at the museum seem pretty deftly executed, and have no comment on the Frida-fying of an affluent suburb, the actual art on display here is incredible and eye opening. The exhibit opens with an historical context section that walks you through Kahlo's life and career with recreations of her outfits and her bed in which she was confined so often and some actual artifacts and archival magazines in which she appeared, and the most eye opening parts of this were examples of Mexican popular art that really informs and contextualizes some of her work. But the heart of the exhibit, the paintings and drawings, are so wild and varied and special that it is revelatory even to super fans. There is one with a spider web rendered so magnificently that it is hard not to be floored. There are sketches and studies of women that capture magnificent beauty with profoundly lusty appreciation. There is a painting of a dead child that can be stared at for eternity. There is genuine surreal insanity. I loved seeing this, and anyone who reduces Kahlo to the greatest purveyor of pain or to a fashion genius will have their opinions expanded. If you can't make it the catalogue does a great job presenting the works.

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