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Frida Kahlo will have her first solo show in New York City in more than 25 years, at the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG), of all places. Fittingly for the venue, the exhibition will “focus exclusively on Kahlo’s intense interest in the botanical world” — the first of its kind, according to the announcement.
FRIDA KAHLO: Art, Garden, Life has both a gallery and a garden component. Curated by art historian Adriana Zavala, the gallery exhibition will spotlight 14 paintings and works on paper by Kahlo that include prominent botanical imagery, from her lesser-known still lifes to self-portraits with nature motifs. This selection of Kahlo’s work will be accompanied by photographs of Kahlo’s family home, La Casa Azul (The Blue House), taken by Guillermo, her father, who built the house; as well as photographs of Kahlo and her husband, artist Diego Rivera; and specially commissioned artwork by Humberto Spindola, whom the press release calls “instrumental in curating the current plant collection at the Museo Frida Kahlo.”
Meanwhile, the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory at the NYBG will be filled with a kind of mash-up tribute to Kahlo and the Casa Azul garden. This “reimagined version” of said garden will include blue courtyard walls, a variety of plants native to Mexico, a scale version of a pyramid from Casa Azul filled with succulents, and a re-creation of Kahlo’s studio at the house, which overlooked the garden.
By way of background on the subject, the NYBG press release explains:
Of Kahlo’s approximately 200 paintings, 55 are self-portraits, and many more are portraits of friends and colleagues, including art patrons. Many of these portraits incorporate plants and other organic materials. In her still-life paintings, she depicts a variety of Mexican fruit and flowers alongside animals, Mexican folk art, and pre-Columbian objects. Kahlo’s inclusion of plants and nature in her work spans her entire career but her most intensive dedication to the still-life genre dates to the 1940s and 1950s, particularly as her health declined and she was increasingly confined to her home and garden, which underwent its most significant period of development during the 1930s and 1940s.
Kahlo’s “Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird” (1940), “Flower of Life” (1944), “Still Life with Parrot and Flag” (1951), and “Self-Portrait Inside a Sunflower” (1954) will all be included in the exhibition, which opens at the NYBG on May 16, 2015.