V&A FRIDA KAHLO
Client Victoria & Albert Museum
Status Complete 2018
The V&A exhibition Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up is an exhibition showcasing Kahlo’s possessions from the Blue House on the outskirts of Mexico City, which have never before been exhibited outside of her home country. Featuring a number of key self-portraits alongside Kahlo’s costumes, medical corsets, jewellery, accessories, photographs and letters, the exhibition has been curated and designed to reflect a compelling and very personal life story.
Designed with Tom Scutt, the exhibition starts with a monumental totem presenting an inverted image of Frida reflected in her bed. A deep blue tunnel of light ushers visitors into the enticing world of the renowned Mexican artist. The first gallery sets the context of Frida’s life and the exhibits are set within a cloister of ever decreasing arches that reference the patterns of Tehuanan dress. This gallery culminates in a re-imagined Blue House, where she was born, lived and eventually died. The focus draws the onlooker to two Frida mannequins holding hands, with one dressed in European attire and the other in traditional Mexican clothing. This composition recalls Frida’s famous painting ‘The Two Fridas’.
Frida slept and painted in two separate beds, back-to-back on either side of a wall in her house, one of which has a mirror inset into its canopy. The bed is a theme that reoccurs throughout her work, and it has influenced the shape of the gallery’s cabinets that hold Frida’s orthopaedic objects, such as: her plaster corsets, her braces, crutches and personal objects including makeup, perfumes and medicines.
The penultimate gallery presents Frida’s extraordinary wardrobe, juxtaposed against her self-portraiture. The centre piece is a mirrored incarnation of pre-Columbian podium in the Blue House. This object acts as a celebration of Frida’s home, her garden and allegiance to Mexican identity.
Exhibition Design Tom Scutt and Gibson Thornley
Graphic Design Bob Design
Lighting Design DHA
AV Design Luke Halls Studio and Ben & Max Ringham
Structural Engineer Webb Yates
Acoustic Design Sandy Brown Associates
Co-curators Claire Wilcox and Circe Henestrosa
Project Management and Cost Focus Consultants
Exhibition Sponsor Grosvenor
Photography Jack Hobhouse
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