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Reader: Frida Was an Amazing Woman and an Incredible Artist

"Self-Portrait with Monkeys," by Frida Kahlo.
"Self-Portrait with Monkeys," by Frida Kahlo.
Photo by Gerardo Suter, courtesy of the Denver Art Museum

Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism opens today, October 25, at the Denver Art Museum (after a member preview), and as Michael Paglia notes in his review, it's the star attraction of the city’s bittersweet 2020-2021 art season.

The traveling exhibit includes more than 150 paintings, drawings and photos central to Mexican Modernism — which got its start in 1920 and stretched forty years — and includes works not just by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, but significant pieces by their contemporaries, including Lola and Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Gunther Gerzso, María Izquierdo and Carlos Mérida. In addition to the fabulous period photographs, there are also a few films; the DAM augmented the display with some additional works by women artists associated with Kahlo as well.

Paglia wasn't the only one wowed by the display, as evidenced by comments on our Facebook page. Says Dan:

Just saw it today - great collection of works.

Adds Julie: 

What an inspirational show! Friday was an amazing woman — I didn't know about the health challenges she faced — as well as an incredible artist.

Notes Cynthia:

"Nunca pinté mis sueños. Pinté mi propia realidad.”

But then there's this from Marcelino: 

The thing about this exhibit is the fact that Frida couldn't stand gringos. She'd be real upset at all the suburban gringas out there putting her likeness on shirts and purses, profiting off of her.

Responds Vanessa:

I didn't know much about her other than I've seen some of her paintings. So what does this mean in terms of seeing the exhibit as a gringa? Just don't go because she hated me for my unbaked roll face and because I'm boring? Would she not want her art shown in Gringolandia? I don't own anything of her likeness, but I'd want to see the exhibit that shows many other Mexican Modernist artists, too, because I like art and like learning about artists who are different than me. Should I get in touch with the Denver Art Museum and ask them that they not show her work in this exhibit because she hated the USA and white people? What is appropriate?

Replies Lolly:

If you like her art, go see it. Her likeness is on pillows, socks, handbags, earrings, etc, so the gringos got her, and they don't care if she likes them or not. They like her and they are going to keep on "wearing" her and liking her. She somehow got pulled into that capitalism that she despised.

 Meanwhile, Rick warns: 

Almost sold out.

The show runs until January 24, which gives us plenty of time to debate whether the exhibit is cultural appropriation, important art history...or both. Post a comment, or share your thoughts at editorial@westword.com. 

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