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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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Shopkeeper: Can I help you?
Frida Kahlo: I'm just brows-ing.

I wonder when the Frida Kahlo-isation of our culture first took serious hold? Not that I particularly object to it: I can see that, now Che Guevara's star has waned, there is a (counter-)cultural niche to be filled. And who better than Kahlo, with her take-me-as-I-am stare and striking looks? That she also had Trotsky a lodger certainly doesn't make her less cool.

I've known of her for a long time, in fact since the days when she was mostly spoken as Diego Rivera's partner ("Who he?" quoth the Zeitgeist), but I've only recently become aware of Kahlo merch in almost every shop, at least in Bristol and Brighton. Is it a recent phenomenon - and if so, what triggered it? Or has it been building slowly, and I've only just noticed, parboiled frog as I am?

It's been a think in the US for at least twenty or twenty-five years. There may have been a show at MOMA which started it off, or the show may have confirmed it. Anyhow, she's been ubiquitous for a very long time. You're right that she may have taken the baton from Che.

I don't know how it started but Frida is suddenly all over the culture. My six year old granddaughter is crazy about her- and wanted to be taken to the recent Kahlo exhibition at the V & A.

I just had lunch with an ex-colleague who told me that some children at her daughter's school came to World Book Day dressed as FK.

Wow. Never heard of it, or her, before this mention.

By the late 80s in the States, but it wasn't pervasive. I had a little fold-out book of self-portraits that I displayed at work, and that was an earlier job, so I can more or less date t!

I learned of her immediately I came to the US (which was twenty years ago) from a freshman-year dorm-mate and have seen her everywhere since!

I noticed exactly the same thing yesterday (while looking round Waterstones in Norwich).

Building slowly, because I was in high school so that was the 1990s. In the US anyway!

Much of the contents of the V&A exhibit were taken from a walled up wardrobe (or bathroom?) which was only broken into c. 2005. Diego Rivera had it walled up after Frida's death. It contained thousands of things, from paperwork to outfits to medicines and toys and her medical equipment.

So that influx of new material may have helped the process.

My daughter has two books about Frida, and is a fan. It helps that she was an artist whose adult state was so clearly shaped by her childhood, being taught painting by her father, the long-term effects of polio, and living out most of her life in her childhood house.

I didn't know about that 2005 discovery! That may explain a lot.