Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving at Brooklyn Museum, February 8 – May 12, 2019

Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving 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, will be presented alongside works by Kahlo—including ten key paintings and a selection of drawings—as well as photographs of the artist, all from the celebrated Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Related historical film and ephemera, as well as objects from the Brooklyn Museum’s extensive holdings of Mesoamerican art, are also included. Offering an intimate glimpse into the artist’s life, Appearances Can Be Deceiving 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, these objects illustrate 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.” — Brooklyn Museum

Photographs by Corrado Serra.

Catherine Morris, Sackler Senior Curator, Brooklyn Museum, says, “Under-recognized in her lifetime, Kahlo has become a feminist icon over the past four decades. The prevailing narrative that women are too often defined by their clothes, their appearance, and their beauty was powerfully co-opted by Kahlo through the empowering and intentional choices she made to craft her own identity. The exhibition is titled after a drawing by Kahlo, in which she makes visible the disability that her striking Tehuana skirts and blouses covered. The show expands our understanding of Kahlo by revealing the unique power behind the ways she presented herself in the world and depicted herself in her art.”

Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving is 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 V&A 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.