Last November, my daughter and I went to see the “Mexique” exhibition at the Gran Palais. Here is the long overdue publication of my related notes:
Pont Alexandre III is the most ornate and grandiose bridge in Paris. Named after Tsar Alexander III, the bridge commemorates the alliance established between Russia and the Third Republic in 1892. And, with its view of the Eiffel Tower, it’s an often used location for wedding picture and tourists’ selfies. Crossing the bridge is like taking a stroll in an en plein air museum as the bridge is full of sculptures—cherubs, lions, seashells, monsters and much more. Built for the city’s World Fair in 1900, the bridge links the Hôtel des Invalides with the Petit and the Grand Palais.
The Gran Palais hosts a number of exhibitions every year such as “Mexique” dedicated to Mexican art from 1900-1050. Naturally, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera were the main attractors but there were, aside from Orozco and Siqueiros, many “minor” artists of interests such as José Guadalupe Posada, Julio Ruelas, Roberto Montenegro, Ángel Zárraga and Carlos Mérida.
Some of the women included in the exhibition:
Bibliography: The Human Tradition in Mexico byi Jeffrey M. Pilcher
Japanese artist Miyako Ishiuchi takes photographs of clothes. She began doing so after her mother died. Miyako’s mother had a strong personality and lived in a time that went through numerous metamorphoses. By photographing her mother’s intimate effects such as lingerie, shoes and cosmetics, Miyako examined the memory she had of her mother. Because clothes give us an identity.
A few years after photographing her mother’s belongings, Miyako began a new project: Yokosuka Story. She started photographing the personal objects of those who’d lost their lives in the American bombing of Hiroshima treating the objects just like a saint’s relics. Thus the victims are seen as martyrs. Objects like combs, watches, and shoes are the only things left of a life obliterated by a bomb.
After Frida’s death, Diego Rivera had her wardrobe with all her personal belongings locked up. It was kept this way for 15 years after his death. But it wasn’t until 2011 that the contents of the wardrobe were photographed. And it was Miyako Ishiuchi who was selected as photographer photographing the clothes was like photographing a person.
“If I met her, I wouldn’t ask any questions. I would only want to stare at her and touch her body.” Japanese photographer Ishiuchi Miyakois talking about Frida Kahlo.
Frida was an anti-conformist who made her style loud enough to be heard. So loud, in fact, that 60 years after her death, it still echos. Frida Fashionistas have gone global and fashion designers blatantly appropriate The Frida Look.
Fashion is a form of expression. But when I dress, am I expressing me or somebody else?
More à la Frida:
Frida Kahlo Wears Huipiles on Instagram
Many Mexican intellectuals including Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera sustained Mexicanidad, the pro-native movement associated with the Mexican Revolution.
Alfredo Chavero (1841-1906) was a politically active Mexican archeologist who enthusiastically promoted the re-appropriation of Mexico’s indigenous past. Chavero wrote extensively on Middle American Indians. He was the first scholar to make reference to Coatlicue, the Aztec goddess who wore a skirt made from serpents and a necklace made of hearts, hands, and a skull pendant. With such a surrealistic look, it’s no wonder that Frida fell in love with her and often used Coatlicue related motifs for her paintings. In her “Self-portrait With Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird” (1940), Frida portrays herself wearing a necklace of thorns adorned by a dead hummingbird. Dead hummingbirds were often used as charms to bring good luck in love. The painting was made shortly after Frida’s divorce from Diego so, obviously, she was devastated and used her art to help her purge some sorrow. Photographer Nickolaus Murray, friend and ex-lover, bought the painting from Frida knowing she needed the money.
I would like to make a huipil dress dedicated to Coatlicue. It would have a bodice made of skull printed fabric and a skirt of snakes!