Frida's Back In Town

Frida Kahlo's Dos Mujeres

. . . as is Georgia.

"Have you seen the Kahlo?" asked the young woman at the museum desk as she handed me my ticket. "Third floor. " She pointed upwards for emphasis. "You don't want to miss it."

The legendary artist Frida Kahlo has found a home at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. "The Kahlo" is a painting called Dos Mujeres, recently acquired by the MFA, and lovingly conserved before its debut last fall. On the left is Salvadora, and on the right, Herminia; both were maids in Kahlo's mother's household. This double-portrait is the only Kahlo work in a New England museum, and of greater note, is also the first painting that Kahlo ever sold. 

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Kahlo is sharing the five gallery space as part of the current exhibition, Making Modern. Georgia O'Keeffe, the other female painter in the exhibition, shares the limelight, and powerfully. A half-dozen of her paintings are grouped together, including White Rose With Larkspur No. 2  (below). O'Keeffe explained her now iconic flowers, saying that "[I]n the twenties, huge buildings sometimes seemed to be going up overnight in New York." At that same time, she saw a still-life by Fantin-Latour, and realized that if she, an unknown artist, painted flowers that small, no one would look at them. "So, I thought I'll make them big like the huge buildings going up. People will be startled, and they'll have to look at them--and they did."

White Rose with Larkspur No. 2 by Georgia O'Keeffe

Others included in this exhibition are Arthur Dove, Charles Sheeler, Marsden Hartly and Stuart Davis,  part of the group of artists, including O'Keeffe, who showed their work at the Alfred Steiglitz gallery in New York. There are some eye-catching Jackson Pollocks, paired with Picassos to demonstrate Picasso's influence on the famous drip painter. You can read a snarky note from Picasso questioning Pollack's lack of restraint. 

Another artist, Tina Modotti, was part of Kahlo's circle. Her photographs share the gallery space with Dos Mujeres, and often centered around the themes of labor and the oppressed. Below is Hands Washing. Modotti would later give up photography in order to devote her time to political activism.

Hands Washing, a photograph by Tina Modotti

Ticket prices for the museum are a bit steep at $25, a tiny discount for seniors (over 65). The ticket does allow a second visit at no extra charge within the following ten days. For more information, check out the Museum of Fine Arts' website.


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Susan B. Apel, writer, ArtfulEdge


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