Frida Kahlo was a communist. But she sells
I spent a while waiting in the enormous gift shop at the V&A as my daughter was still looking at the exhibition Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up. She was entranced. Kahlo does that. Her broken body, her relics – the lipstick, the perfume, the jewellery. It’s a shrine. Who wouldn’t bow down before her pain, her passion, her power? wer? The complexity, the colour, the e huge intelligence.
But not somehow as compelmpelling to me as the size of the e gift shop. I don’t want to dress s up as Frida Kahlo, but a lot of middleiddleaged women do. “The fan- dom”, as my teenager refers ers to them. There was so much ch Mexican stuff on sale, which ich I love, and so many books. .
There is some great stuff: ff: replicas of her fabulous sununglasses. For this, after all, is largely an exhibition of her stuff, and that stuff moves us; the plaster casts she wore, with the baby she would never have drawn on. The prosthetic leg. And then she is there on film – in black and white with Trotsky, in colour with her husband Diego Rivera. What’s not to love? Let’s not worry too much about cultural appropriation as Kahlo Ka herself appropriated the clot clothes of the peasant class. Skip o over her bisexuality and her politic politics, and put some flowers in your h hair.
Oh F Frida, did you paint a hammer and an sickle on your plaster bod body cast for nothing? In your fina final days you painted yoursel self with Stalin. You were a communist c and proud; a T-s T-shirt, with your image, bearing the slogan “I am literally a S Stalinist” – would that sell, I w wonder?