Art + Fashion: Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair, 1940. Oil on canvas, 15 3/4 x 11″ (40 x 27.9 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Edgar Kaufmann, Jr. © 2017 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Inspired by Markus Lüpertz’s dapper style when he was in town for the opening of his exhibition at The Phillips Collection, some of our staff decided to take a look at other artists known for their unique fashion sense. Today, we focus on Frida Kahlo.

I would be remiss in not mentioning Mexican painter Frida Kahlo in a discussion of artists whose style influenced their practice. The nonconformist female artist, known widely for her vivid self-portraits, explored questions of identity, gender, class, and race in Mexican society. Kahlo often featured herself in colorful Mexican clothing, referencing her traditional indigenous culture and appreciation of her ancestry. The feminist icon’s style often reflected powerful and deeply personal moments in her life, whether it was admiration for her culture, the political climate in Mexico, her ailing body, or love and heartbreak.

One of her works that is especially relevant to this topicis Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair (aka Short Hair, Don’t Care! as I like to refer to it), which depicts Kahlo wearing an oversized men’s suit, instead of one of the traditional Mexican dresses that she is often shown wearing. Kahlo created this work while separated from her partner Diego Rivera.

Frida Kahlo’s celebration of the female form, down to her un-manicured eyebrows, continues to inspire artists today.

Maria Vizcaino, Associate Director of Gala and Special Events

A Phillips Woman on Women Artists: Lauren Griffin

In honor of Women’s History Month and The National Museum of Women in the Arts #5WomenArtists challenge, we’re highlighting some of the spectacular women on our staff and the female artists who inspire them.

Lauren Griffin, Membership Associate

Lauren Griffin photo

Lauren Griffin, Membership Associate

Do you have a favorite woman artist from The Phillips Collection, or a favorite female artist whose work has been on display at the museum?
LG: My favorite woman artist in the museum is hands-down Arlene Shechet. As a ceramicist I appreciate her experience and expertise. It takes years of practice and experimentation to make work that looks so effortless. Her glaze treatments are amazing.

Shechet installation photo_lee stalsworth

Installation view of Arlene Shechet: From Here On Now. Photo: Lee Stalsworth

Who is your all-time favorite female artist? Do you remember the first time you saw her work? How does she inspire you?
LG: My favorite female artist of all time? That’s impossible to commit to, as there is such a breadth of work by women in the world, I can’t possibly pick just one! An artist who really inspires me is Tara Donovan. I had seen her work in completed form before, and had always been blown away by how she transformed everyday objects into amazing installations. While I was working at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, I was fortunate to observe the install of her work Untitled, affectionately called “the cloud sculpture.” I had only ever seen her finished work, so watching the sculpture evolve day by day, from individual Styrofoam cups and hot glue, to an undulating hive on the ceiling blew my mind. It was the first time I had the opportunity to watch an artist complete an installation on-site in a museum stetting, and when it was completed, I had a new respect for the labor and time Donovan puts into her works. She would mount a section of the sculpture, come down the scissor lift, look at it, go back up, change it, repeat. It’s easy to get discouraged as an artist when you are in the middle of making a work, you feel like you’ll never get to a result you’ll be happy with despite all your edits. Watching Donovan go through the process of revision to create an amazing finished work reminded me that all artists go through that process, even the ones in museums.

Name five women artists:
Juliana Huxtible
Andrea Bowers
Kathy Butterly
Shirin Neshat
Jenny Holzer

A Phillips Woman on Women Artists: Emily Bray

In honor of Women’s History Month and The National Museum of Women in the Arts #5WomenArtists challenge, we’re highlighting some of the spectacular women on our staff and the female artists who inspire them.

Emily Bray, Education Specialist for Public Programs

Emily Bray photo

Emily Bray, Education Specialist for Public Programs

Do you have a favorite woman artist from The Phillips Collection, or a favorite female artist whose work has been on display at the museum?
EB: Nikki S. Lee. She’s a Korean artist who uses photography to blur the lines between culture and identity. She transforms herself to “fit” into the subcultures in our society and documents her interactions. I first discovered Nikki while trying to work through some of my own photography about identity. The Phillips has a few images from her series The Lesbian Project, The Hispanic Project, and The Swingers Project.

Nikki S Lee

Nikki S. Lee, The Lesbian Project (11), 1997. Fujiflex print, 30 x 40 in. Gift of the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, DC, 2010

Who is your all-time favorite female artist? Do you remember the first time you saw her work? How does she inspire you?
EB: I wish I had an all-time favorite female artists, however, I love so many! I admire Elina Brotherus’s work as she often turns the camera towards herself, a mix of model and self-portrait, of quiet, sentimental images of her life. I also love Elinor Carucci‘s photography because she uses a 35mm camera to document her daily routine, through good and rough parts, beautifully capturing each moment. Brotherus and Carucci use their personal life to convey that everything, every moment, really matters. I think it’s often a good reminder to me and to all women that we’re important, and each of our stories is valuable.

Name five women artists.
#5WomenArtists that influenced my photography work are:
Julie Cameron
Diana Arbus
Sophia Calle
Francesca Woodman
Barbara Bosworth