EAST LANSING — Since January, the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University has presented visitors an intimate view into the end of legendary Mexican painter Frida Kahlo’s life.
Next week, the museum will host two speaking events at which attendees can hear directly from members of Kahlo’s extended family about the painter’s life.
Artist and co-curator Cristina Kahlo, Frida Kahlo’s grandniece, and Juan Coronel Rivera, grandson of fellow famed painter and Kahlo’s husband Diego Rivera, will discuss art and family in two separate talks June 29 and 30, both at 6 pm, at the Broad . Both events are free, but pre-registration is required.
“Kahlo Without Borders” has been open to Broad visitors since Jan. 15, and will run through Aug. 7. The exhibition share slices of Kahlo’s personal and artistic world through photographs of her and her family; medical documentation from her stay at a Mexico City hospital; correspondence between the artist and her family, friends and doctors; and Cristina Kahlo’s photography.
The exhibit includes photographs of hospital gowns Kahlo wore, marked with paint splotches from the artist cleaning her brushes on them while she worked in bed.
The exhibit, which includes 95 different pieces, also features a family tree that draws lines between the artist and Cristina Kahlo. Rivera’s grandmother was not Kahlo. Diego Rivera was married multiple times before and after his two marriages to Kahlo.
The exhibit was curated by Cristina Kahlo, Javier Roque Vázquez Juárez, and Broad Executive Director Mónica Ramírez-Montagut.
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Frida Kahlo’s life was shaped by her physical ailments.
At 6 years old, she contracted polio. At 18, Kahlo was in a tram when it turned over, an incident that deeply impacted the rest of her life. According to the Broad exhibition, she was unable to walk for several months and ultimately underwent 32 tours.
Her first paintings, which she created as she recovered from the crash, were self-portraits.
“I paint myself because I am so often alone, and because I am the subject I know best,” she once said.
Because of her ailments, Kahlo was not able to have children.
The purpose of including medical files and photographs from her hospital stay, Cristina Kahlo said, is to “provide more information on what she was going through at the moment of making a painting.”
For example, Kahlo was working on a painting named “Viva la vida y el Dr. Juan Farill” — dedicated to a surgeon who cared for her — at the time some of the documents were created.
“I am sure that Frida wanted to leave all sorts of testimonies of her life: the good moments but also the bad ones, such as surgery or a new prothesis,” Cristina Kahlo said. “In some of her latest photos, her physical discomfort was noticeable, yet a photographer invited into that room was witnessing the moment … she wanted these images to remain beyond her own time.”
“In Frida Kahlo’s art, her emotions are transparent to the viewer’s eyes,” she said. “That’s something that always fascinates us and brings us closer to her.”
Contact reporter Jared Weber at 517-582-3937 or email@example.com.