Frida Kahlo, I will forget you never
Nickolas Muray (fotografie)
2 July till 25 September 2005
This morning we went to Rotterdam to see this exhibition at the Kunsthal which opened yesterday. The De-kooning exhibition also on at the Kunsthal finished today. Also showing was a Gaudi exhibition including some original architectural drawings of the cathedral; and an outstanding exhibition Johan Hendrik van Mastenbroek.
The exhibition of fifty photographs were in a side gallery painted a bright pink.
Fifty years after its death present an overview photograph portraits of Frida Kahlo to the art hall (1907-1954). This photograph, originating from the heritage from the New Yorkse photographer Nickolas Muray, has been shown never earlier in public or has been published.
In the years thirty and forty, during its marriage with Diego Rivera, have Kahlo and Muray an affair. The fifty photographs give a picture of the intimate relation between Frida and Nickolas.
The photograph above is typical of those exhibited. Frida either poses in similar three quarter portrait to her paintings, or is caught mid sentence, or in an intimate moment. There are both coloured and black and white images, mostly Frida alone or with one or two other people or animals. Its a rare moment when Frida smiles at the man rather than the camera, but there are one or two. In the few of Frida with Diego, he looks quite possessive of her.
Nickolas Muray (Hungary 1892 - New York 1965) open Village in 1921, its own studio in Greenwich and acquire reputation with portraits of prominent persons, such as Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich and Dwight David Eisenhower. Vanity fair and Harper's fair publish its photograph regularly.
This is reflected in the quality of the photography.
In 1931, he learns Frida Kahlo. Muray have a brief affair with Frida. If of the firsts Nickolas Muray in the years twenty with three colours carbonpigment methods experiment themselves and can no more coloured model such as Frida Kahlo wish. Kahlo, which use frequently the self-portrait as a topic in its existentialistische paintings, have large interest for Murays colour photograph and she considers posing as a part of its own work.
She dresses himself in Mexican traditional clothing, makes up himself carefully, applies flower aims and gives much attention on its haardracht. The portraits of Muray can be interpreted thus, however, as documentation of a performance. Kahlo show themselves in Murays fotowerk such as Mexican country-woman, filmdiva, sociaalrevolutionaire activist, but above all as an artist of themselves.
This is an accurate description. See Germain's Greer's review for more on Frida's performances.
There is an impression of colour and movement and when she poses holding a picture frame around her face, the similarity to her painted self portraits is apparent. Its as if she is making self portraits and Murray is her instrument. Yes, she had a monobrow, yes she facial hair and yes she looked like her portraits.
Frida turned the art of 'putting on a brave face' into art itself. Concealing pain, dividing between the private spaces of illness and the public space of her married life required Frida to perform. In all but one photograph she wears an ankle length skirt, in the exception, man's trousers. Ever, her disability is concealed and disquised by her flamboyant cultural quotation.
translated by babelfish
Willem De Kooning Reviewed
Tableau magazine April 2005 contains an article about this exhbition and the above quote leads the english summary. The main article is apparently an interview with De Kooning that took place in 1982? by scottish writer Ken Wilkie. Its in Dutch and they neglected to include the original english text. This is typically dutch, why write a new article placing De Kooning into a contemporary context when one can recycle an old one? I found this amusing. Photographs in the article were included in the exhibition.
" The Kunsthal in Rotterdam is celebrating the centenary of Willem De Kooning, the Rotterdam born painter who stowed away on a boat to the United States and there changed the face of American art."
The quotation above places De Kooning in a Dutch perspective. First the defensive identification that this famous person is a Dutch famous person. " the Rotterdam born painter " Secondly, he not only got something for nothing, but he took advantage of the Americans. "who stowed away on a boat to the United States" What an ingeneous man.
"and there changed the face of American art." By participating in the Federal Arts Project and by being in the right place at the right time, he is assisted to success.
The FPA was introduced during the depression to support artists in exchange for their work. The artists continue to produce and in return for their art, which is at that time unsaleable due to the economic situation, are supported financially. This is a Dutch paradise, not only is it free, but it is free money; and he got a free trip there too. Did I mention that he stowed away? The writer did, twice.
There were two early figurative works that were interesting to see for the first time not in reproduction. One or two 'women' and some hard edge later abstractions in insipid colours.
"Success was tinged with notoriety however - his grotesque Women series from the nineteen fifties was considered 'bad taste' and an agressive mother blamed. De Kooning himself explained that he was just poking fun at his status as an 'idol'. 'what ctitics see in the work says more about them than about me' he said."No comment.
The exhibition included a few paintings by other artists. The best work in show ( the only thing worth paying to see?) was an Andy Warhol painting on canvas. In broad brushstrokes, dark blue overpainted in black, titled 'shadow'. A non screenprint Warhol, how interesting.
The exhibition confirmed my earlier impressions of De Kooning.