A month ago, Sean and I checked out In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States show at LACMA. Despite seeing the banners all over the city featuring Frida Kahlo’s “Autorretrato con Collar de Espinas” (Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird), I waited until a few days before the show closed to check it out. I’m really glad I saw the show.
My older cousin, Bibi, introduced me to Frida’s art when I was in 6th grade. Thanks to Bibi, I knew about Diego Rivera’s philandering ways, the horrible bus accident and the monkeys.
I liked Frida and her art, but didn’t love it like some of my friends. I even prided myself on the fact that I wasn’t that kind of Chicana. I made a banner advertising that fact in my early blogging days. (And yes, I know there’s not one way to be a Chicana.)
Something stirred in me when I finally saw In Wonderland. Frida Kahlo was just one of about 50 artists featured. Most of her paintings were in in the section on self portraits. Despite being familiar with a couple of the paintings in the show (Las Dos Fridas, Autorretrato Con Collar de Espinas, Frida y Diego wedding portrait from 1931), I still had to stop and look at them for a bit. I stood in front of Las Dos Fridas amazed at the detail. Up close, I found new details I’d never noticed in prints, books or even a tableau vivant Halloween costume. I did the same with the wedding portrait. I’d always just thought of that one as an example of her small stature compared to el elefante, Diego Rivera. But this time I got the chance to read the text and imagine how she felt on her first wedding day.
I went through the show once and then walked back to find a crowd around Las Dos Fridas. I couldn’t blame them for stopping to stare and take it all in.
It may have taken twenty years to find my inner Frida fangirl, but she was there all along. I just needed to see the real thing to realize it.
4 thoughts on “Frida on my mind”
I saw the show in March with a good friend of mine and perhaps as a Rican I have a different/can have a different relationship with Frida. Am I a fan, yes but no se something about her placement in that show troubled me. I’m working on a piece about it now pero si it’s always pretty amazing to be able to see her work in person and pay attention to the details you might otherwise miss.
Welcome to the club.
I saw your comments on Twitter and would love to hear your critique. My favorite pieces in the show were from Remedios Varos. I’ve never seen Frida as a surrealist, and from my knowledge she didn’t consider herself one. I thought Varos’ work was a lot more surreal and had that humor. I found myself going back to her paintings too.
Heh. I thought of you and Denise/PearMama while writing this.