Frida Kahlo, Self-portrait with monkey, 1945, Museum Dolores Patino, Xochimilcho, Mexico, © VBK, Vienna, 2008


From the 1st of  September to the  5th of  December 2010 – Bank Austria Kunstforum

the Kunstforum is presenting the first comprehensive exhibition on Frida Kahlo ever shown in Austria. The myth of the Mexican artist has taken on global format; Frida is an icon with star character: identification figure of Mexican culture, forerunner of the feminist movement, flagship figure of a megamerchandising machine, incandescent and exotic film material for Hollywood. Kahlo’s art is inextricably linked to her biography.
Paintings and drawings are not only a mirror to her life, which was characterised by physical and mental suffering – the painter suffered the whole of her life under the effects of a near-fatal bus accident in her youth – but her oeuvre of painting and graphics also forms one of the most complex chapters in the history of art between the wars, between Neue Sachlichkeit (new objectivity) and surrealism. The 1920s saw the production of finely drawn self-portraits, oriented on the figural ideal of Renaissance painting. By the early thirties she was painting her first surrealist pictures: her strategy was combinatory, influenced by the cadavres exquis, the spontaneous graphic collages of the surrealists, with whom Frida was in lively contact; the results were compositions of iconographic, multi-layered complexity ensuing from her inner world. Around
1940, Kahlo’s self-portraits gain in expression. Instead of the neutral look we see the “authoritarian eye”. Frida dramatises herself into a figure of sanctity, worthy of adoration. There is no escaping her dominant radiance.
The exhibition Frida Kahlo Retrospective includes around 70 paintings and 30 drawings, as well as a representative selection of photographic documents compiled by Cristina Kahlo, Frida’s great-niece. The major part of Kahlo’s artistic legacy is in Mexico, the rest mainly in the USA – most of Frida’s major works come from public and private collections in these 4 countries. Considering the lack of Kahlo’s works in European collections and the sparsity of exhibition projects in Europe, this show may be regarded as a sensation for Vienna.
Curators: Ingried Brugger
Florian Steininger
Helga Prignitz-Poda (Gastkuratorin)

Gallery Hours