kahlo de young.jpg


Curator Coordinator of the Exhibition

By Iride Aparicio

Photos Courtesy: FAM of San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO CA-- the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco announce the reopening of their museums, following their temporary closure under the shelter-in-place order mandated by the City of San Francisco (pending City approval)

The de YOUNG museum, the first of the two museums to reopen, will open to members on September 22, 23, and 24.  On view, the exhibition FRIDA KAHLO: APPEARANCES CAN BE DECEIVING will premier to the Bay Area audiences on Friday September 25th.  The de YOUNG's previous exhibition, BEING HUMAN IN THE AGE OF AL, will also reopen in an expanded version under the name:  UNCANNY VALLEY: BEING   HUMAN IN THE AGE OF Al, that will include PIERRE HUYGHE's bronze sculpture Exomind.

To inform our readership about this unique exhibition, by phone, Cultural World Bilingual interviewed HILLARY OLCOTT, the Associate Curator in the Departments of Arts of Africa, America and Oceania at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco and the coordinating curator of the FRIDA KAHLO: APPEARANCES CAN BE DECEIVING exhibition.

Hillary Olcott
HILLARY OLCOTT Coordinating Curator, FRIDA KAHLO Exhibition

C.W.B.:  Why was FRIDA KAHLO's exhibition called "Appearances Can be Deceiving?"

Hillary: "The title was inspired by Frida Kahlo's previously unknown drawings that were discovered in the year 2004, at "La Casa Azul" (Blue house)"

"La Casa Azul"  is KAHLO's   Museum in Coyoacàn, México, which is in the house where Frida was born on July 6, l907, where she grew up, where she lived with her husband, mural painter DIEGO RIVERA and where she died on July 13, l954. The house is called "Azul" because the outside and inside are painted blue, (Her favorite color) and blue is "Azul" in Spanish. Hillary continues her explanation of the exhibition's name:  

Hillary:  "In this (particular) drawing, (An 11 1/4 by 8 inches charcoal and colored pencil and paper drawing that can be seen at the exhibition) Frida  painted herself in her white Tehuana garb (The dress worn by the women from Tehuantepec, Mexico) and white rebozo (Shawl)  but the materials of her clothes  are drawn transparent in the painting, which allows us to see her damaged body: her (thin) right leg, her broken spine, and her upper body supported by a back orthopedic brace. Underneath the drawing, she wrote in Spanish "Las Apariencias engañan" which means that appearances can be deceiving. So, it is from this particular drawing that the exhibition took its title."

C.W.B.  What was your input in the exhibition?
Hillary: " As coordinating Curator I had a wonderful opportunity to work with CIRCE HENESTROSA  the guest curator of the exhibition and GANNIT ANKORI, the advice and research leader, and together we selected some new items from "La Casa Azul" that had not been included in any previous exhibitions.  So, all the paintings that are included in the exhibition are unique to this venue, selected for this show as well as the photographs that we selected from the different institutions.  And, also,  this exhibition uses a selection of  KAHLO's work from the de YOUNG MUSEUM's permanent collection: works on paper, photographs, lithographs and ceramics from our  pre-Hispanic art collection to demonstrate what KAHLO had  at "Casa Azul." So, together as a team, the three of us fashioned this exhibition into a unique version of a show. "

C.W.B. What, in your opinion, are Fridas's icons and Why?
Hillary: "What does "icon" mean to you?"
C.W.B: The different things that make a person unique.
Hillary: "I think that what made KAHLO unique in part was her ability to draw inspiration from so many different sources around her. Both in her environment and in the people who she spent her time with, the books that she read, the art work that she had, the flowers in her garden, the dresses that she chose, in everything.
She took the beautiful things in life, the different things that she admired, and she combined them together in a way that was entirely her own. and feed it into her art work and into her personal style. She had a very strong personal esthetics and she communicated loudly. What is one of the most compelling things about KAHLO, is that she combined these things to make herself and to make her world the way she wanted.  That self realization and creation is very inspiring to many people."

Frida Kahlo's belongings
Frida's belongings       Photo by: Gary Sexton

C.W.B.:  How do you define FRIDA KAHLO's style of painting?
Hillary:  "This is a great question that is one of the most frequently discussed points about KAHLO's work, but unfortunately, I don't know if I have a wonderful answer for you.  She has been called "Surrealist" and her style of painting has also been described as "sudo-naive" and as "Folk Art," but I think that her art defies a definition.  She  created something entirely her own, and she drew inspiration from so many different sources and created something so entirely "unique." that  I don't think that it is for us to put this woman and her art work into one category."

C.W.B. What can you tell us to entice us to visit the exhibition?
Hillary: "That this exhibition is a remarkable opportunity for the Bay Area visitors and residents to have a truly intimate experience with FRIDA KAHLO as it shows very personal items from KAHLO's "La Casa Azul" along with photographs of the artist, and work that covers her whole artistic career. The materials in the exhibition  show to the public not only  FRIDA's  life's  work as an artist, but also allow us to explore her diverse modes of creativity and makes us think about the different factors that influenced,  not only her life, but her style and her her art. And in addition to that, along with the paintings that are on view at this exhibition, we show KAHLO's examples of photography, collages, and even her frescos work that are not often shown to the public. So, this exhibition will be a wonderful experience, a unique opportunity for people to really get to know KAHLO, to see her art work (at their own pace) and appreciate her true mastery with very few people around them."

Frida Kahlo
FRIDA KAHLO's portrait shown at the exhibition

The variety of items shown in the  FRIDA KAHLO: APPEARANCES CAN BE DECEIVING exhibition: The  photographs, personal and historical, sketches, drawings, jewelry, dresses, hats, prosthetics , and even some of the pre-Columbian clay figures from her own garden, demonstrate in such detail  KAHLO's (1907-1940) world, that we could say that it is "The  First Time that the contents of  "La Casa Azul,"  in Coayacon, can be viewed in San Francisco.  
Visitors can reserve their tickets now at