Following a road accident when she was 18, and the frequent operations that followed, Frida Kahlo spent the whole of her adult life in severe pain. The experience marked her work and her world, as did her friendship with prominent figures of her day, including Leon Trotsky, Andre Breton and Nicholas Murray, and her turbulent marriage to the famous Mexican muralist Diego Rivera a few years after her accident.
The exhibition at the Martin-Gropius-Bau is the most comprehensive to date, bringing together more than 150 paintings and drawings by the award winning artist. The two largest Kahlo collections will be on display together for the first time, alongside important loans from 30 Mexican and 15 North American museums and private collections.
The exhibition shows Kahlo's artistic development from the New Objectivity through Mexican Estridentismo - an avant garde, interdisciplinary movement arising from the Mexican Revolution - to Surrealism and her own distinctive take on Realism.
As well as world famous paintings by Kahlo, there will other lesser known works on display alongside works that were believed lost. Highlights of the exhibition include around 90 drawings, some previously unpublished, and her last works dating from 1954. This will be the first time that the portrait in oils where she appears as a sunflower and the self-portrait drawing will be seen in Europe. The surrealist composition drawings show a little-known facet of Frida Kahlo: her sense of humour. Through light-hearted imagery and subtle visual puns the artist both reveals and conceals her thoughts.
Another section of the exhibition is dedicated to the small format votive paintings dating from the early Thirties. Here the artist used the Mexican ex voto style to give expression to her desire for youth, health, independence and fulfilment.
The exhibition of artwork will be complemented by an extensive collection of photographs belonging to the artist's family and close friends. These will be divided into separate sections: Frida as a young girl, Frida with her husband Diego Rivera, Frida lying in bed painting her plaster corset, and a number of individual pictures where she looks out with a confident gaze from portraits showing her as a fascinating woman decked in beautiful jewellery and wearing traditional folk costume.
Frida Kahlo in Berlin