Dallas Art Fair Symposium: Finding Frida

The Dallas Art Fair is this weekend and so is their much anticipated symposium, Finding Frida.

Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, Frida Kahlo

For those of you who don't know a little about Frida Kahlo, she was a Mexican artist who used  bright colors and painted mostly surreal and symbolic self-portraits and still life, much of it reflecting the physical and emotional pain she felt in real life.

When Frida was 18, she was involved in a serious bus accident that left her bedridden for one year. She incurred severe injuries, underwent 30 surgeries, and had relapses of pain up until the time of her death at age 47.

Frida stopped studying medicine after the bus crash and turned to painting to pass the time in bed. A mirror was installed on the ceiling, her mother rigged an easel by her bed, and her father lent her oils and brushes.

After a few years, Frida sought advice from muralist Diego Rivera on her career as an artist. She fell in love with him and they were married when she was 21, he 20 years her senior. They actually married twice; Frida and Diego both seemed to have had their own issues and sexual love affairs, but they were very passionate for each other.

Frida was a successful artist during her life, however, she didn't receive worldwide popularity until the 1980's, nearly thirty years after her death.

My Nurse and I, Frida Kahlo

She is now recognized as a legendary figure in the NeoMexicanismo artistic movement; several books and films have been released about her life/work, including the Oscar winning film starring Salma Hayek (Frida) and Anotonio Banderas (Rivera). Frida Kahlo's work is displayed in prominent galleries and museums around the world, including the Harry Ransom Center at UT Austin, the Museum of Modern Art in cities New York, San Francisco, and Mexico City.

The symposium this weekend will bring together Frida Kahlo experts, collectors and advisors. Notably in attendance will be collectors Carlos Noyola and Leticia Fernandez, who recently acquired over 1200 personal items belonging to Frida.

The Noyola collection includes handwritten letters, diaries, suitcases, articles of clothing, notes and paintings.

Frida Kahlo Pieces from The Noyola Collection

Items from The Noyola Collectio

The couple, Noyola and Fernandez, owns an antique shop in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and started accruing the collection in 2004 from a lawyer, who in 1979 had acquired them from a woodcarver, who just before Frida's death in 1954 had bartered craftsman picture frames for her "pictures and trinkets."

Does this sounds familiar to anyone else?

"My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it's pretty serious."

Not too much later after the couple acquired these valuable pieces, the collection was discovered by independent curator, Barbara Levine, who saw the collection in the couples antique store. Levine published a 256-page book displaying the Noyola collection artifacts and called it "Finding Frida Khalo."

Here's a video about the contents in the Noyola Collection, by co-author Barbara Levine:

Within hours of this news about the publication, the Frida Estate filed a claim to Mexican authorities stating the entire collection is a forgery. This has unleashed a full investigation to what Levine says "may take years to fully evaluate each piece in the Noyola collection in order to thoroughly reconcile authenticity, fact, and fiction.”

No new news has been released since the story broke last year, but this weekend, an international panel of experts will discuss the current Noyola controversy. It should be good.

Moderated by correspondent for The Art Newspaper, Jason Edward Kaufmann, participants include:

Carlos Noyola and Leticia Fernandez, co-owners of La Buhardilla Antiquarios in San Miguel de Allende and owners of the collection; Jed Paradies, advisor with the Noyola collection; Jennifer Thompson, Editorial Director, and Kevin Lippert, Publisher of Princeton Architectural Press. Mary-Anne Martin who founded the Latin American Department at Sotheby’s before starting Mary-Anne Martin/Fine Art, New York; Dr. Salomon Grimberg, co-author of the Frida Kahlo catalog raisonné, Frida Kahlo, Das Gesamtwerk, and and one of the world’s leading experts on her work; James Oles, professor of art history at Wellesley College who has conducted extensive research in the Kahlo archives at her Casa Azul in Mexico City.

Admission is free of charge for Dallas Art Fair ticket holders. Tickets to the Dallas Art Fair is $20/day ($15 for Seniors +60 and Students) or $40 for a three-day pass.


Saturday, February 6, 2010
10 AM to 12 PM

Sunday, February 7, 2010
10 AM to 12 PM

Montgomery Arts Theater at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
The Dallas Arts District
2501 Flora Street
Dallas, TX

From the Dallas Art Fair Press Release:

The controversy that has accompanied the publication of the Noyola collection of Frida Kahlo material has raised numerous questions. This panel will bring together the owners of the Noyola material, experts who have examined the objects, the publisher of the related book (Finding Frida Kahlo), as well as scholars, dealers, and journalists who are familiar with the artist’s oeuvre. The discussion will range from the specific — a description of the Noyola archive — to more general questions about how newly discovered artworks are received and evaluated by the scholarly community and the market.


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