In 2011, self-taught Japanese photographer Ishiuchi Miyako was given the opportunity to travel to Mexico and photograph Frida Kahlo’s wardrobe and personal objects. They had only recently been discovered – when Kahlo died in 1954, her husband Diego Rivera is reported to have shut her belongings away in a tiny spare bathroom in La Casa Azul, demanding that they remain there for 15 years after his own death. But they actually stayed locked away for 50 years; the room wasn’t opened until 2004.
Thanks to Miyako’s intimate photographs, on exhibition at London’s Michael Hoppen gallery starting next week, we can get a glimpse of some of these cherished belongings. Those familiar with Kahlo’s work know that a devastating bus accident, and the life-long physical pain she endured afterward as a result, were a central theme of her work. Her wardrobe was also a reflection of her creative, unbreakable spirit in the wake of the accident’s aftermath – from the long Tehuana dresses she wore to conceal her asymmetrical lower body, to the hand-painted body casts and corsets.
The photographs will be on display at the Michael Hoppen Gallery in London from May 14 through July 12.