There’s a comprehensive show of Frida Kahlo’s life and work being done in San Diego right now but the event isn’t a museum show at all. It’s a traveling, for profit exhibition filled with copies of Kahlo’s work created by artisans in China:
All of Kahlo’s paintings (123) are in this show, but none of them were actually painted by her. And from the banners, advertisements, even the catalog that accompanies the exhibit, the audience is none the wiser.
The paintings on display are replicas of Kahlo’s work. They were commissioned from four Chinese artists who are not credited. Yet the press release announcing the exhibit says, “This is the only exhibition worldwide where all of her paintings can be seen in one place. Some paintings, especially from Kahlo’s early years, have never before been seen.”
Hugh Davies, David C. Copley director and CEO of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD), didn’t mince words when asked about the exhibit, on view through mid-January.
“To have a show entirely of copies and to promote it as all Frida Kahlo’s paintings together for the first time is completely dishonest,” he said.
Frida Kahlo Paintings in San Diego: Do Audiences Know They’re Copies? (KPBS San Diego Public Radio & TV)