Rome wouldn’t perhaps be the most obvious host city for a major exhibition of arguably one of Mexico’s finest and best-known artists, and yet opening on March 20th, the Scuderie del Quirinale, formerly Rome’s papal stables and today a grand exhibition hall, plays host to a magnificent retrospective of the life and work of Frida Kahlo.
Born in 1907, Kahlo’s passion for painting came about during months of convalescence following a serious road accident at the age of 18, painting portraits of herself, her friends and still life. The influence of her homeland played a profound role in Kahlo’s work, exemplified by her use of bright, vibrant colours, dramatic symbolism and a folkloric style influenced by the indigenous cultures of Mexico. Yet Kahlo was also inspired by the artistic trends originating from Europe, particularly Realism, Symbolism and Surrealism, and alongside symbols of Mexican mythology such as the monkey, Kahlo also used Christian and Jewish themes in her work.
Kahlo was best known for her self-portraits, yet her work only found popular international appeal decades after her death in 1954, when the artistic movement, Neomexicanismo, became prominent in the 1980s. It is said that each of her 200 paintings, drawings and sketches captures a moment of her life, reflecting her turbulent relationship with her husband (the famous Mexican painter, Diego Rivera) her lifelong physical and emotional pain and her sexuality.
Running through the spring and summer months until August 31st, this extensive exhibition explores Kahlo’s art, her ties with the artistic movements of her time, be they Mexican Modernism or international Surrealism, and their resulting influence on her work. Containing a selection of her masterpieces from private and public collections on loan from Mexico, the United States and across Europe, the exhibition is complemented further by a series of photographs of Kahlo herself. Entrance to the exhibition costs 12€ (reduced prices for under 27s and over 65s); open daily from 10am until 8pm (10.30pm Fridays and Saturdays) until 13th July, and from 4pm until 11pm (midnight Fridays and Saturdays) thereafter.
Exhibition aside, the Scuderie del Quirinale itself is an interesting place to visit as it stands next to the Colonna Gardens on top of the archaeological remains – many still visible – of the Roman Temple of Serapide. It also sits alongside the prestigious Palazzo del Quirinale, official residence of the Italian President, and the Palazzo della Consulta, Italy’s constitutional court and a former villa built upon the ruins of the Baths of Constantine.