Frida Kahlo is to fashion people as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, or The Ramones are to music people. Most likely, your walls (or Tumblr feeds) have been graced by her artwork, and you’ve cited her as an icon or inspiration at some point in your life. Despite her being such an integral part of the aesthetic canon, the physical relics and symbols of Kahlo's artistry — her clothes, accessories, crowns, and makeup — haven’t been seen since her death. Until now, that is.
Photographer Ishiuchi Miyako shot Frida’s personal belongings that were hidden in the bathroom of “The Blue House” that she and husband Diego Rivera shared in Mexico City. Locked away since her death in 1954, the contents were purposefully hidden by Rivera, with the instructions that they remain hidden away until 15 years after his death (he died in 1957, but the room wasn’t unlocked until 2004).
Miyako’s previous work documented the clothing worn in post-war Japan. In Frida,
a book and exhibit currently in London, the photographer catalogs the items that have come to define her legacy, and the ones the artist used to hide her body. Kahlo had polio and was in a devastating car accident when she was young, and had her leg amputated later in life, so she tended to cover her lower half with long Tehuana-style dresses. Later, while recovering from numerous surgeries, she had to wear full-body casts, which she adorned with painted-on symbols and swaths of fabric.
The exhibit's press release reads: “Miyako sifts through the ephemera left behind by an individual, and in doing so makes intimate revelations about [her].” Click through to see images from the Frida
exhibit at the Michael Hoppen gallery
in London, where it will be displayed from May 14 to July 12.