Frida exhibit at The International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum.
When you think of Frida Kahlo, you think of her amazing, iconic painted self-portraits. Frida with one of her many pet monkeys, Frida with her furrowed mono-brow, Frida sending you a stern message in pigment, daring you to catch her meaning. You don’t think of photographic portraiture as much in the 1930s and 40s, and especially not candid photography. But quite a few photos of this type exist of Frida and her partner, the famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera.
These photos are currently on display at the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum. (3415 Olive Street, 63103)
As a a photographer I tend to get caught up in the technical perfection of my images. I want the lighting just so, the composition just so, and I am disappointed with anything less. Viewing these images reminded me of the importance of just getting the shot. already. These images might be grainy, soft focused, even enlarged reproductions of newspaper clippings, but they are fascinating because of who and what they document. Having this peek into the lives of Frida y Diego is magical, no matter the softness of the focus.
Last night the venue hosted a talk on the lives of the couple, given by Lauren A. Johnson, a Ph.D. art history student at Washington University.
The exhibit is well worth a visit, even if (or especially if) you’re a Frida buff already. It covers the span of both Frida and Diego’s lives, from photos of their parents, to baby photos, through their artistic and politically-charged careers and even to their deaths and funeral processions.
Seeing these both posed and candid images of Frida with Diego and with friends helps to round out the idea of her as a real person, and removes some of the mythos surrounding her life. To see her parent’s photos, her baby pictures, to see her side by side with Diego (an imposing figure of a man, who makes her appear quite tiny and fragile) is very special, and I recommend it highly. The exhibit is showing until August 4. ($5 entrance fee for non members, see website for hours.) The venue also has quite a few Frida and Diego themed books available for purchase.
Note: the venue itself is not easily ADA accessible, it does require climbing one flight of stairs. The IPHF website says that there is an accessible entrance through the building next door.