The V&A’s exhibition Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up, has proven so popular that the museum has announced a two-week extension, topped off with an uninterrupted 48-hour run. The unconventional event will coincide with the Mexican Day of the Dead festival, which ends November 2 (the first day of the party). Artist Humberto Spinolda will construct an ofrenda (altar) dedicated to Kahlo, and DJ sets and workshops will take place throughout the night.
The exhibit explores her life through her personal possessions (including cosmetics and disability aids) and fashions. Throughout her prolific career, the Mexican artist spoke honestly and openly of postcolonialism, disability, sexuality, feminism, cultural identity, and communism, all of which are clear influences on her work.
The V&A is charging £17 (~$22) to attend the exhibition and all-nighter. The nature of the event proves erroneous, with some critics cautious of the British museum’s monetization of her legacy (especially in the gift shop) — an ironic reality considering Kahlo’s personal politics. During her lifetime, Frida Kahlo’s disdain for imperialism, capitalism, and gringos was no secret.
Kahlo was associated with Marxist Communism, Trotskyism (Left Opposition), and Stalinism at different points in her life. She even had a torrid affair with Leon Trotsky during his asylum in Mexico, with him and his wife staying in the world famous “Blue House” for two years before his assassination. (It’s unknown to me if her “Self Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky,” or “Marxism Will Give Health to the Sick” are included in the show.) Upon her death at age 47, her coffin was covered with a flag of the hammer and sickle contained within a star.
The artist’s life was undoubtedly fascinating, radical, and complicated. Londoners and tourists are clearly enchanted by the opportunity to preview Kahlo’s personal collection, as the exhibition extension was announced after all of the slots up until its original November 4 closing date were booked. For those curious, tickets for the all-nighter are dwindling, with only early morning and late night spots still available.
Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up is on view at the V&A through November 18. The exhibition was curated by Claire Wilcox and Circe Henestrosa. The exhibition will be open without interruption between 10 am on November 2 to 10 pm on November 4.