Kahlo at the Norton
A tribute to the artist
On Sept. 24, the R.W. Norton Art Gallery will open a new exhibit featuring the works of 90 artists who took as their muse the visionary painter Frida Kahlo.
The Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek, Calif., put the exhibition together in 2018, asking artists to use Kahlo herself as a theme, her garden, her Mexican culture and her fashion. The show set records at the Bedford Gallery before traveling to New Mexico, Florida, Alabama and Texas before coming to Shreveport. For the Shreveport opening, the Norton is partnering with 318Latino to present what it’s calling “Frida Fest.” On Friday, Sept. 24, the Norton will host an outdoor reception from 4 to 7 p.m. that will include music, family activities, food trucks and the Kahlo exhibit.
The artists honored Kahlo using different media – paintings, sculpture, textiles, photography and collage. A spokesman for the Norton called Kahlo one of the most significant artists of the 20th century, adding, “We think it’s important for our community, especially children, to see an example of an unapologetic, strong woman who’s toasted as one of the world’s most recognized artists.”
In explaining Kahlo’s importance, Rita Riner of 318Latino said, “Frida is not only important to the Latino community, but to many around the world. Frida represents freedom and equality, which are essential rights for any human being.”
She said Kahlo’s forwardthinking attitudes for her time are reflected in her art and autobiographical paintings. Riner added. “She shows the suffering of women in a world conquered by men, and even though we are in the 21st century, we continue fighting for fairer opportunities.”
Kahlo endured personal suffering in her life, which inspired her art. She was stricken with polio as a child and was involved in a bus accident that left her permanently injured at 18. During her recovery period from the accident, she took up her childhood hobby of painting again.
In 1927 she became active in the Mexican Communist Party, where she met and later married famous Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. They reportedly had a tumultuous marriage that ended in divorce in 1939. Kahlo continued to paint and stood up her first solo show in Mexico in 1953. She died in 1954 at age 47 and remained largely anonymous until the late 1970s, when historians and political activists rediscovered her work. By the end of the millennium, Kahlo was credited with significant contributions to art history and the Chicano, feminist and LGBTQ movements.
Carrie Lederer, curator of the traveling exhibit, says Kahlo continues to inspire 21st century artists. “The 94 artists featured in ‘The World of Frida’ have reinterpreted many aspects of Frida’s life – from honoring her self-portraits to depicting her love affair with Diego Rivera to recognizing her emotional, physical, professional and societal struggles. She flipped ideas about modern female life on its head well before the feminist movement and is today emulated by many – you will see several examples of this throughout the exhibition.”
Lederer added, “The exhibition is a remarkable tribute to an artist who continues to influence millions by the simple fact that she always remained true to herself.”
“The World of Frida” will be on display from Sept. 24 - Nov. 28. Museum hours are Friday 1-7 p.m., Saturday 1-7 p.m. and Sunday 1-5 p.m. No reservations or tickets are required, and admission is free.
Emily Feasel of the Norton suggested keeping an eye on their social media and website for public programming that will run through the exhibit’s duration, including a tequila tasting, private tours and a special coffee with the curator.