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FRIDA KAHLO: Art, Garden, Life

Artistic Inspiration

The New York Botanical Garden is presently exhibiting the first solo presentation of artist Frida Kahlo’s work in New York City in more than 10 years. On view through November 1, 2015, the exhibition focuses on Kahlo’s connection to nature in her native country of Mexico, showcasing recreations of her garden and home decoration, as well as her use of plant imagery throughout her paintings.


Frida Kahlo/Image: Getty Images

On display in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, the space is transformed into Kahlo’s studio and garden at Casa Azul (Blue House). Visitors entering the conservatory will see the Blue House reimagined as it was in
Mexico City, which Kahlo transformed throughout her life with traditional Mexican folk-art objects and colonial art, as well as native Mexican plants. Color plays a key role as the indigo-blue walls are highlighted with sienna and
greens, all working as a backdrop for the array of plants and flowers.




Images Above: Casa Azul Recreation/Images courtesy New York Botanical Garden/Top Image-Robert Benson

Next, walk over to the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Art Gallery to view 14 of Kahlo’s paintings and drawings, all highlighting botanical imagery. The artworks include Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird (1940); Flower of Life (1944); Still Life with Parrot and Flag (1951); and Self-Portrait Inside a Sunflower (1954).



Gallery of Frida Kahlo Artwork/Images courtesy New York Botanical Garden/Robert Benson

Along with the art exhibition and botanical gardens recreation, there is a panel installation that highlights important destinations in Mexico City where Kahlo’s work, along with her husband Diego Rivera’s work, can be seen today. The installation provides insight as to how much Kahlo and Rivera contributed to the cultural life of Mexico City.


Panel Display of Mexico City/Image courtesy New York Botanical Garden


Noted as one of the most revered artists of the 20th-century, Kahlo (1907-54) has become an international symbol of Mexican and feminist identity. Throughout her life, many of her struggles with illness and injury, along with her tumultuous relationship with her husband Diego Rivera (1886-1957) have been well-documented. Among Kahlo’s 250 plus art pieces, 55 are self-portraits, and others include portaits of friends and family. Within these paintings, many include plants and nature, including fruit and flowers, and her work using nature and still-life became more prominent in her later years as her health declined.


Frida Kahlo at her home, Casa Azul/Image by Getty Images

Guest Curator Adriana Zavala, Ph.D., exclamed, “It has been a tremendous privilege to work with the team at The New York Botanical Garden to bring FRIDA KAHLO: Art, Garden, Life to fruition. As a scholar and ambassador of Mexican culture, I am proud that this exhibition will enrich our understanding of Frida Kahlo’s connection not just to her native Mexico but to the natural world overall. The research that has gone into building this multifaceted project demonstrates that Kahlo’s life, her times, and her work were, like the natural world itself, a crossroads of transcultural influences.”

Images with permission and courtesy The New York Botanical Gardens and photographer Robert Benson as noted on images, and Getty Images