Frida Kahlo, Painting Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, 1940, Banco de México © 2014.
The New York Botanical Garden will present its major 2015 exhibition, “Frida Kahlo’s Garden” which will focus on the iconic artist’s engagement with nature in her native country of Mexico, opening 16 May, 2015, remaining on view through 1 November, 2015. The exhibition will be the first solo presentation of Kahlo’s work in New York City in more than 25 years, and the first exhibition to focus exclusively on Kahlo’s intense interest in the botanical world.
Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, Painting, 1940, From the exhibition Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life at The New York Botanical Garden.
The exhibition will examine Kahlo’s keen appreciation for the beauty and variety of the natural world, as evidenced by her home and garden as well as the complex use of plant imagery in her artwork. Featuring a rare display of more than a dozen original Kahlo paintings and works on paper, this limited six-month engagement will also reimagine the iconic artist’s famed garden and studio at the Casa Azul, in Mexico City.
Gisèle Freund, Frida in the Garden, Casa Azul, 1951, From the exhibition Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life at The New York Botanical Garden.
The landmark Conservatory at The New York Botanical Garden will come alive with the colors and textures of Kahlo’s home country of Mexico during the exhibition. Visitors entering the exhibition will view a re-imagined version of Kahlo’s garden at Casa Azul -the artist’s childhood home outside of Mexico City where she resided in her later years and where she died in 1954, transforming it with traditional Mexican folk-art objects, colonial-era art, religious ex-voto paintings, and native Mexican plants.
Frida Kahlo’s Garden & Studio, View from courtyard of Casa Azul in Coyoacán, Mexico City.
A scale version of the cobalt-blue pyramid at Casa Azul -originally created to display pre-Columbian art collected by Kahlo’s husband, famed muralist Diego Rivera-will showcase Mexican terra-cotta pots filled with plants found in her garden. The show will also include a version of a Coyoacán street market, with traditional food and drink for sale during the run of the show.
Frida Kahlo, The Love Embrace of the Universe, the Earth, Diego, Me, Painting, 1949, From the exhibition Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life at The New York Botanical Garden.
Of Kahlo’s approximately 200 paintings, 55 are self-portraits, and many of these portraits incorporate plants and other organic materials. Kahlo’s inclusion of plants and nature in her work spans her entire career but her most intensive dedication to the genre dates to the 1940’s and 1950’s, particularly as her health declined and she was increasingly confined to her home and garden.
Frida Kahlo, Portrait of Luther Burbank, 1931, From the exhibition Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life at The New York Botanical Garden.
One of the most important paintings in the show is Kahlo’s portrait of botanist inventor Luther Burbank, who is credited with developing more than 800 varieties of plants. Kahlo paints him sprouting from the ground, a plant in his hand and his bottom half depicted as a tree. Here Kahlo creates an extraordinary human/plant hybrid reflecting her thinking and beliefs in 1931, a time when the mixing of species was taboo in places like Germany.
Accompanying the exhibition will be events to learn about the inspired life lived by this beloved artist and enduring cultural influence through poetry, lectures, Frida al Fresco evenings -Mexican-inspired shopping and dining experiences, music events related to the show, Day of the Dead and Mexican Independence Day celebrations, and hands-on art activities for kids. An immersive art garden life exhibition intended to celebrate not only Kahlo’s work but also the “energy and sophistication of Mexican culture.” Bravo!