Five Things You Should Know About Frida Kahlo: Her Photos

This exhibit at the Glenbow displays a selection of photographs from an iconic artist’s archives in its first stop in Canada.


The legacy of Frida Kahlo, Mexican artist and feminist icon, is coming to Calgary. Frida Kahlo: Her Photos brings a new layer of the artist to the Glenbow through a selection of photographs from Kahlo’s archives.

“Sometimes people know a few things about Frida, but maybe not everything about her and the nuances of her life,” says Melanie Kjorlien, vice president, access, collections and exhibitions at the Glenbow. “The exhibit really provides people with a much deeper appreciation of who she was as a person.”

The exhibit opens on February 3 and is on display until May 21, but for those who are too eager to wait, the Glenbow’s Launch Party on February 2 offers the chance to catch a glimpse ahead of the game.

Melanie Kjorlien tells us five things you should know about Frida Kahlo: Her Photos.


Kahlo’s photographs will immerse you in her life story.

Kjorlien emphasizes that while some aspects of Kahlo’s life are well-known, there is so much more to the story. This exhibit will help colour in some of the heretofore ignored or unknown. “Because a lot of them are candid photographs of her interacting with people on an everyday basis, you start to get a better sense of how she lived her life, who some of the people that she spent time with were, what causes were important to her and how she lived with those painful surgeries,” says Kjorlien.


One of the most interesting photos in the exhibition was sealed with a kiss.

See if you can spot Kjorlien’s pick for one of the most interesting photographs in the exhibition. “I think probably one of the photos that visitors will be most intrigued by is a photo of Diego Rivera, a black and white photo, that has an imprint of some lips on it. It’s thought that Frida is the person who kissed the photograph,” says Kjorlien.


That playful photo is emblematic of how Kahlo used photography.

Kjorlien considers that kiss photo to be an example of the many ways in which Kahlo utilized the medium of photography. “What’s interesting about that photograph is it gives you some insight into how Frida used her photo collection,” says Kjorlien.

“She annotated things on the backs of the images. She manipulated them in other ways like the example I just mentioned. She cut people out of the photographs. They speculate that some of the photos may have been taken by her after she set up an organization of some elements. Those photographs may have been turned into a painting later on.”


The examination of an artist through the lens of the archive is something the Glenbow engages in as well.

The impetus to bring Frida Kahlo: Her Photos to the Glenbow included the desire to display a new facet of a brilliant artist, but there was also a link between the work of the museum and the exhibit. “There were some interesting connections [between Frida Kahlo: Her Photos and] the work that the Glenbow does,” says Kjorlien. “We have our own archives here and it includes a lot of [artists’] personal documentation. It’s the idea of understanding an artist and their work and their life from a number of different perspectives, such as their personal effects and what that can tell you about them as an artist.”


After you go visit Frida Kahlo: Her Photos, see Eye of the Needle.

Kjorlien’s suggestion for your next stop after the Frida Kahlo: Her Photos exhibit is Eye of the Needle. “It is an exhibition of really incredible items from Glenbow’s collection, but also some contemporary art from Western Canadian artists,” she says. “It’s everything from clothing to two-dimensional artwork to furniture, hats, etc. It’s objects that have been embellished with embroidery or other kinds of needle-work. Not exclusively, but a lot of the artists in that exhibition are women. I think it would be interesting for people to go see what some other women artists have created and have been creating.”

Frida Kahlo: Her Photos runs from February 3 to May 21, 2018 at the Glenbow. For more information, visit 

The Launch Party is February 2 at the Glenbow. For more information, visit

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