Friday, August 29, 2008

Frida Kahlo at SFMOMA

Frida Kahlo is always complex subject for anyone and SFMOMA's show (closing on Sept. 28th) is no exception to that statement. With so much press she's been getting over the last 25 years, it's almost more challenging to put together this show -- in a way, I feel like asking SFMOMA "Show or tell me something I did not know or have not seen before." Well, they did. There is a gallery's worth of Kahlo and Rivera photographs from the Vicente Wolf collection that apparently have never been shown or published before. There is also a gallery showing the relationship between the City of San Francisco and Kahlo/Rivera but for the most part, one just needs to turn to the 50 some odd paintings to realize how amazing her art (and life) was. The torture, the suffering and the heartbreaks are very well documented in her painting and I actually feel that the small size of most of them is what gives me this voyeuristic feel when looking at them. It's as if I am looking directly at her painful account of her miscarriage, her complex relationship with Diego and her back injury. In short, it's pretty difficult to screw up a major show like this given the artist and the material the curator has to work with and as expected, SFMOMA delivered the goods (again).
BTW, the small scale of most of her paintings is a reminder that art does not have to gigantic in order to be impactful. Modern artists, I feel, need to be reminded of this every once in a while.

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