Viva la Frida (one of 240 photographs in Frida Kahlo: Her Photos.)EXPAND
Viva la Frida (one of 240 photographs in Frida Kahlo: Her Photos.)
Frida Kahlo, by Guillermo Kahlo, 1932 ©Frida Kahlo Museum

See Frida Kahlo Like You've Never Seen Her Before at the Bowers Museum

There's always something new to learn about the mysterious yet heart-bearing Frida Kahlo. Whether you're a devoted Frida freak or just a casual admirer of the beloved Mexican surrealist—Frida Kahlo: Her Photos, the latest exhibit to open at The Bowers museum in SanTana—is a must for anyone interested in taking an intimate peer into one of the world's most celebrated and elusive artists.

Kahlo meticulously collected over her lifetime thousands of photographs of lovers, family, friends, scenes of Mexican culture, her international travels, the love of her life Diego Rivera, and the subject she knew best: herself. After her death, the collection was locked away by a grieving Diego Rivera in Kahlo’s Casa Azul in Coyocán, Mexico City. More than fifty years later, 240 photographs—all of which are the first and only prints made of the originals—are being revealed to the public with curation by distinguished Mexican photographer and image historian Pablo Ortiz Monasterio.

The photographs on display in the exhibit were taken by many renowned creatives of the time including Edward Weston, Tina Modotti, Lola and Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Martin Munkácsi, Kahlo herself and others. Cut up photos, paint blotches, imprints of kisses and thoughtful writings are found throughout the collection of photographs that act as a visual diary of Kahlo's life just like her paintings did.

Diego Rivera in his study at San Ángel and a lipstick imprint by (hopefully) Frida Kahlo.EXPAND
Diego Rivera in his study at San Ángel and a lipstick imprint by (hopefully) Frida Kahlo.
Anonymous, ca. 1940 ©Frida Kahlo Museum

Kahlo's photographs are displayed through six sections of the exhibition that weaves through four rooms (including a screening room showing The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo a PBS documentary with interviews from Hilda Trujillo, director of The Frida Kahlo and The Diego Rivera Anahuacalli Museums, Hayden Herrera, famed Kahlo biographer and people who knew the artist personally.) The exhibit ends with a Frida-centric gift shop filled with Xicano and Meso-American knick-knacks for sale—perfect for all the xipsters out there.

As one browses the exhibit you can't help but marvel at the original selfie queen as she shows off early indicators of her chingona artistry in confident and stoic poses from as far back as her infancy. Photographs of hammer and sickle-bearing Soviet, Mexican and Guatemalan workers show Kahlo and Rivera's devotion to Communism and act as a snapshot of the early to mid 20th Century international political climate. Several images of female models (some nude) posing by Diego Rivera paint his notorious infidelities more vividly. Candids of Kahlo effortlessly stealing the spotlight in social gatherings with American, European, Soviet and Latin American elite show the artist's knack for forming several friendships and passionate love affairs. Lastly, seeing Kahlo bedridden and muscling enough strength to continue painting throughout the last days of her life gives us a peer into a pain that Kahlo deeply channeled in her artwork but is rarely shown through such a visibly poignant medium such as photography.

Frida painting in her bed.EXPAND
Frida painting in her bed.
Anonymous, 1940 ©Frida Kahlo Museum

You'll leave the exhibit feeling like you've just discovered an intimate and unknown layer of the soul-baring artist and vividly inspired to vivir la vida just like Frida Kahlo unapologetically did.

Frida Kahlo: Her Photos is open to the public now until June 25th, 2017 at The Bowers Museum.  2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana. Tuesday through Sunday 10a.m.-4p.m. Members: $10, Adults: weekdays $23, weekends $25. Seniors (62+) and Students: weekdays $20, weekends $22. Children (under 12) are free. For more information visit

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