Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving

Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving is now open at the Brooklyn Museum

A major exhibition exploring the life and work of the iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo opened last week and will be on display until May 12. The exhibition includes Frida Kahlo’s clothing and other personal items; key paintings and drawings by the artist; photographs, film, as well as related objects from the Brooklyn Museum’s collection. Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving (the tile is derived from one of her paintings) is the largest U.S. exhibition in ten years devoted to Frida Kahlo, and the first in the United States to display a collection of her personal possessions from the Casa Azul (Blue House), the artist’s lifelong home in Mexico City.

The objects, ranging from clothing, jewelry, and cosmetics to letters and orthopedic corsets, are presented alongside works by Kahlo. Offering an intimate glimpse into the artist’s life, the exhibit explores how politics, gender, clothing, national identities, and disability played a part in defining Kahlo’s self-presentation in her work and life. After Kahlo’s death in 1954, her husband, muralist Diego Rivera, instructed that their personal belongings be locked away at the Blue House, not to be touched until 15 years after Rivera’s death. In 2004, these items were unearthed and inventoried. Making their U.S. debut are more than one hundred of Kahlo’s personal artifacts ranging from noteworthy examples of her iconic Tehuana clothing, contemporary and Mesoamerican jewelry, and some of the many hand-painted corsets and prosthetics used by the artist during her lifetime. Shedding new light on one of the most popular artists of the twentieth century, the exhibit, organized by theme, illustrates how Kahlo crafted her appearance and shaped her personal and public identity to reflect her cultural heritage and political beliefs while also addressing and incorporating her physical disabilities.

Paintings on view include iconic works such as Self-Portrait with Necklace (1933), Self Portrait with Braid (1941), and Self-Portrait as a Tehuana, Diego on My Mind (1943), which depicts Kahlo in traditional Tehuana clothing and an elaborate headdress with a miniature portrait of Diego placed squarely above her iconic brow. In addition, the exhibition features photographs of Kahlo, including childhood portraits taken by her father, the photographer Guillermo Kahlo; images of the artist and her husband; and intimate studies by many renowned photographers of the period. To highlight the collecting interests of Kahlo and Rivera, works from the Brooklyn Museum’s Arts of the Americas collection are featured, including ancient West Mexican ceramics such as a Colima dog sculpture and a pair of Nayarit male and female figures, Aztec sculptures of the Maize Goddess and the Wind God, and early twentieth-century pottery from the ceramic center of Tonalá in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The museum had a desire to especially highlight a Mexican artist now, when relations between the US and Mexico are strained. The exhibit was organized by Catherine Morris, Sackler Senior Curator for the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, and Lisa Small, Senior Curator, European Art, Brooklyn Museum, and is based on an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The Brooklyn exhibition is organized in collaboration with the Banco de México Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, and The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of 20th Century Mexican Art and The Vergel Foundation. Revlon is a sponsor of the exhibit, highlighting how Kahlo’s use of color extended beyond the paintbrush.

Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving is a timed ticketed exhibition. Tickets include general admission. The exhibition will be on view seven days a week, with only the first-floor galleries open for viewing on Mondays and Tuesdays. The museum has organized a robust slate of events and programs to accompany the exhibit. Visit for additional information.