For many of us Latinas, Frida Kahlo’s art, rebellious spirit, and iconic style have always had a large impact on our lives even before she hit mainstream stardom. The Mexican painter’s work and being proved she was far ahead of her time. Her resistance to give into society’s Eurocentric beauty standards and the domestic pressures that were often placed on women during her time alive can be perceived today as Kahlo’s way of dismantling the patriarchy. Her colorful personality, her passion for life, and her insistence on enjoying life’s pleasures despite the chronic pain she suffered for years as a result of her traumatic bus accident and the depression that later followed spoke to her tremendous strength. Kahlo was a survivor, a feminist, and a revolutionist at her core. But she was also a style icon who whether consciously or not, was highly successful at branding herself and there’s evidence of that at the Brooklyn Museum’s new exhibition Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving, which officially opens today and runs until May 12, 2019.
The exhibition is the largest exhibition in 10 years dedicated to Kahlo. It is also the first in the United States to display a collection of her personal items from the Casa Azul (Blue House), Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera’s home in Mexico City.
It explores Kahlo’s art, creative vision, and her “self-crafted identity” and personal brand through 11 of Kahlo’s paintings, photographs, film, as well as her personal items: clothing, accessories, and beauty products that were saved by Rivera and held in Casa Azul. What a lot of folks who are new to the artist may not realize is that beauty and style played a huge role in Kahlo’s life. She just refused to follow any rules. She was a big fan of makeup — more so than many of us initially thought — but she was also big on preserving her natural beauty by not touching her famous uni-brow or facial hair. She kept her hair long but often had it worn up with weaved in fresh flowers and Kahlo was embracing the concept of body positivity long before the term existed by embracing her body along with its disabilities. Kahlo’s work along with her image has largely contributed to her becoming a cult figure. Here’s a look at the complexity of her style.