Frida Kahlo is very much having a fashion moment, but for Carolina Herrera, the artist’s influence is anything but a passing fad.
As part of “Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden & Life,” at the New York Botanical Garden, which runs through Nov. 1, the designer has sponsored the gallery that will showcase 14 of Kahlo’s paintings and works on paper featuring botanical images featured in her work. In what will be a double billing, Herrera will keep the Frida Kahlo theme going as sponsor of the NYBG’s June 4 Conservatory Ball.
The Mexican artist’s fondness for color, floral motifs and depiction of the female form have inspired Herrera in her design aesthetic and elegant style, an inspiration that was only heightened when the designer held an event in Kahlo’s hometown of Mexico City last November. Actresses Emily VanCamp and Dianna Agron of “Revenge” and “Glee,” respectively, and Dita Von Teese were a few of the notable guests who joined Herrera in the city of 30 million, which is her company’s third strongest market. After presenting last fall’s runway show in Mexico City’s historic Universidad Claustro de Sor Juana, the designer toured Casa Azul, better known as the Blue House, which Kahlo shared with her artist husband Diego Rivera. Sponsorship plans for the gallery exhibition and NYBG gala were put in motion then.
Herrera said, “Frida Kahlo has been a source of inspiration for me; her vibrant use of color, sense of proportion and her whimsical style all her own. It is fantastic to welcome her exquisite paintings to the Botanical Garden.”
Curated by Mexican art specialist Adriana Zavala, the Herrera-sponsored exhibition in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library’s Art Gallery will be one component of the unprecedented six-month show, which will explore Kahlo’s appreciation for the beauty and vastness of the natural world, as evidenced by Casa Azul, her vibrant garden there and the plant imagery in her artwork. In addition to the more than a dozen pieces of art, the Bronx engagement will also reimagine Kahlo’s studio and garden at Casa Azul in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.
Highlighting Kahlo’s lesser-known still lifes, as well as work that reflects nature in unusually symbolic ways, the art works will include “Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird” (1940); “Flower of Life” (1944); “Still Life with Parrot and Flag” (1951), and “Self-Portrait Inside a Sunflower” (1954). Visitors will also find a special installation of commissioned artwork by contemporary artist in residence Humberto Spindola, who has been instrumental in curating the current plant collection at the Museo Frida Kahlo, and who specializes in sculptural works in paper inspired by Kahlo and her home.
The Bronx exhibition is the latest in a series of Kahlo-inspired cultural events, including a show by Japanese photographer Ishiuchi Miyako at the Michael Hoppen gallery, as well as larger exhibitions at the Detroit Institute of Arts and the NSU Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale.