The best place to attempt an understanding of Frida Kahlo’s complex life is the Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico City. The museum is located in La Casa Azul (the Blue House), which was Kahlo’s childhood home and residence for the majority of her life. The artworks displayed in La Casa Azul are mostly Kahlo’s lesser-known pieces, many of which she produced later in her life at a time when her Communist leanings were at their strongest. Apart from Kahlo’s artwork, the museum also contains paintings by her iconic husband, as well as objects and letters that belonged to Kahlo.
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Located in Frida Kahlo’s hometown of Mexico City, the Museum Dolores Olmedo was founded by Mexican businesswoman Dolores Olmedo, who donated her personal collection. The museum’s collection follows a distinctly Mexican theme, complete with works by Mexican artists from various regions and eras, from pre-colonial indigenous artists to contemporary works. Olmedo has 25 of Kahlo’s paintings, as well as some of her sketches and drawings.
Museo de Arte Moderno features Arte Mexicano del Siglo XX (Mexican art of the 20th century), with over 300 paintings in their collection. Amongst their collection of Frida Kahlo’s works is The Two Fridas, one of the artist’s most famous paintings. Depicting Frida Kahlo in European and indigenous Mexican clothing, respectively, The Two Fridas is a powerful work that symbolizes her uncertain identity – culturally, and otherwise.
New York’s Museum of Modern Art, which houses an impressive collection of famous modern and contemporary works, has three of Kahlo’s self portraits. Among them, Fulang-Chang and I depicts Kahlo and her pet monkey Fulang-Chang, whom she loved like a child, as she was unable to have children due to a brutal accident that left her with health problems her whole life. This painting was given by Kahlo to her close friend Mary Sklar, which is why she attached a mirror to it so Mary could be in the frame next to hers.
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The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington DC holds Kahlo’s Self Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky. Kahlo painted this portrait during or shortly after her brief affair with Russian communist leader Leon Trotsky. Kahlo was an outspoken Communist who fought for Mexico to adopt this political stance, as she believed that it could bring on a return of the country’s folk culture. Kahlo is prominent as a woman artist in her own right, and is one of the few Mexican artists to be featured in the NMWA.
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