Review by Ariana Meyers
For another few weeks, until March 26, Palazzo Albergati is holding an exhibit displaying the works of renowned Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. The exhibit is part of the Gelman collection: Arte Messicana del XX Secolo.
Frida is known for her self-portraits, and has been recognized as a spokesperson for feminism and Mexican culture.
In some museums, it is possible to enjoy the art without reading the descriptions that accompany them. However, in this exhibit, I definitely recommend reading all of the descriptions and timelines that accompany the paintings, which are written in both English and Italian. The descriptions transformed the experience into much more than just an art exhibit, it was an opportunity to learn more about Frida Kahlo’s life, and the context in which she lived and worked. What was most fascinating for me, however, were the timelines of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo’s lives. The timelines allow viewers to contextualize the artworks, and provided a deeper understanding of the artists themselves.
The first floor displayed the artworks of Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo’s husband and fellow artist, in the context of the 1930s and 40s. Diego Rivera and many of his contemporaries were very involved in politics and activism, and their art represented that. The exhibit gave an insight into the political climate of the time, and the ways in which art can influence and criticize that climate.
The first floor also touched on the tumultuous relationship between Frida and Diego, including many images and videos of the couple. Frida and Diego’s relationship impacted both of their lives as artists, and their legacies are intertwined. One of her most famous quotes that she wrote in her diary is: “There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the train [that injured her], and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.”
The main event, however, is upstairs, where the walls are lined with Frida Kahlo’s famous self-portraits. It is curated to follow the evolution of her life, as outlined by a timeline at the beginning of the exhibit. Frida was plagued with many health problems throughout her life, including polio as a child, and a terrible accident when she was 18 years old that would affect her life and her art. Her illnesses and injuries isolated her, which is perhaps why many of her paintings are self-portraits. What was most striking about her work was her frankness in discussing her various health problems in her art. One of her most famous paintings Viva la Vida, is considered to be a reflection of Frida’s personal frustrations with her infertility.
Along with the art, throughout the exhibit are images of Frida and Diego and their families. It was very striking to see an image of the real person in their natural setting, exhibited next to their work.
Coming from California, Frida Kahlo was a prominent figure that we learned about in art class in elementary school. For us students, there was a certain pride because she lived and worked in California for so long. Even more exciting, was that some of her work was displayed in San Francisco, not far from my house. When I was young, and wanting to be an artist, she was an inspiration for me, as she is for many female artists. Seeing this exhibit in Italy was another moment of pride for me. It shows how widespread her influence is, and how, although her art was very personal, it was able to cross borders and touch people from all different backgrounds.
There are only a few weeks left of this exhibit, so I recommend checking it out!
Tickets and information can be found at: http://www.palazzoalbergati.com/mostra-arte-messicana-frida-kahlo-diego-rivera-bologna/
Review by Ariana Meyers