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Pilsen, Little Village, West Loop

Frida Kahlo Photo Exhibition Comes To Pilsen’s National Museum Of Mexican Art

The multi-room gallery features nearly 250 photos that were stashed away for more than 50 years in Mexico City.

This is the first time this photo exhibition has been displayed in Chicago.
Provided/Lola Álvarez Bravo, ca. 1944 ; Guillermo Kahlo, 1932
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PILSEN — Hundreds of unpublished photos from Frida Kahlo’s personal collection are on display in Chicago for the first time at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen.

The “Frida Kahlo, Her Photos” exhibition debuted in 2009 at the La Casa Azul Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico City. It has since traveled to more than 20 cities, drawing more than 1 million visitors. It was curated by Mexican photographer Pablo Ortiz Monasterio.

The exhibition at the museum, 1852 W. 19th St., opened to the public Friday and will run until Aug. 7. The museum is free and is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursday-Sunday and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesdays.

The gallery features portraits of Kahlo and the important people in her life, photos she took and photos given to her by others.

Credit: Madison Savedra/Block Club Chicago
Hundreds of photos of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and other influential figures in Kahlo’s life are available for public viewing until August.

Photography played an important role in Kahlo’s life, as her father and grandfather were professional photographers. Many of the photos from the exhibition were taken by the two.

“We need to go deeper on our understanding of Frida, and this exhibition is one of the ways we can do that,” said Perla Alvarez, coordinator at the Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico City. “You will understand Frida Kahlo in a totally different way.”

The photographs had been kept in storage for more than 50 years after Kahlo’s husband, Diego Rivera, donated their home, known as La Casa Azul, to be turned into a museum after Kahlo’s death. The photos and other personal belongings were unearthed in 2004 in untouched parts of the home.

Credit: Provided/Nickolas Muray, 1946
The photos offer a unique look into Frida Kahlo’s personal life.

Cesáreo Moreno, chief curator at the museum, said it’s significant to have these photos in Pilsen because of the historically large Mexican population in the neighborhood. He wants neighbors, especially kids, to connect to their Mexican heritage.

“How wonderful is it that a mexicana, a female artist from Mexico is being seen as an icon?” Moreno said. “I think nothing but good can come from that within our community. … We’ve always tried to make sure that the next generation understands where they come from.”

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