Each work that arrives at the AGO for a special exhibition like Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting gets VIP treatment from our staff. The process involves a lot more than taking a work out of a crate and hanging it on the wall — transporting valuable pieces is an art in itself, and each person involved is responsible for keeping them safe and sound. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the uncrating and inspection of Frida Kahlo’s Autorretrato con Changuito (1945) on Sept. 25, 2012.
Want to see more uncrating?
Watch CTV’s coverage of the uncrating event here, and click here to see a CTV video from April, when we uncrated Pablo Picasso’s La Lecture (1932) before the May 1 opening of Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée Picasso, Paris.
About this work:
• Kahlo’s most famous works are her self-portraits, which combine elements of realism, surrealism and indigenous Mexican symbolism. Of the 143 paintings she completed, 55 are self-portraits that feature symbolic portrayals of physical and psychological wounds.
• This work is from the collection of the Dolores Olmedo Museum, which loaned about 50 works to this exhibition. The museum is located in Xochimilco, Mexico, and its founder, Dolores Olmedo, was a friend of Diego Rivera’s.
• Kahlo’s use of bright bright colours and dramatic symbolism reflect how indigenous Mexican culture influenced her painting style.
• She was a great lover of pets and owned many birds and animals. She often painted them — especially the monkeys and dogs — and they are often interpreted as her surrogate children.
• Small spider monkeys are rich in symbolism — since medieval times they represented the devil, heresy, vice, caution against excessive love, lust and base instincts.
• The dog in the painting is a hairless Aztec breed called Xolotl (pronounced show-lotle). The Aztecs believed these dogs escorted souls to the underworld.
• The ancient figure in the upper-right corner is a pre-Columbian sculpture. Kahlo included them in her paintings to express her Mexican, Aztec heritage and national pride.
• The use of ribbons is thought to symbolize her close bonds to animals and indigenous culture.
Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting opens to the public Oct. 20, 2012, and runs to Jan. 20, 2013. The exhibition is co-organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; and the Museo Dolores Olmedo, Mexico City, in association with The Vergel Foundation, The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of Mexican Art and Galería Arvil.