What the Critics are Saying: Frida Kahlo

By london_alex Last edited 168 months ago
What the Critics are Saying: Frida Kahlo

A few weeks ago we encouraged you to book tickets to see Frida Kahlo’s exhibition at the Tate Modern . Londonist hasn’t had an opportunity to wander down the South Bank yet, which this weekend we blame solely on the horrendously hot and suffocating weather, but being the good Samaritans we are at Londonist, we are compiling the thoughts of art critics from around the UK.

Rachel Campbell-Johnston at The Times remarked that there was little value in seeing Kahlo’s work which she characterized as “an almost colour-by-numbers style.” In a stunning blow to the exhibition Campbell-Johnston concludes that “apart perhaps from the drawings and the earlier paintings, her mostly small, methodical canvases are disappointing in that you cannot read anything into them that you could not from a good reproduction in a picturebook.” So it would seem that we were almost better off looking at our copy of Janson than actually attending the exhibition.

Surprisingly, she manages to award three stars to the Tate’s exhibition even after raking Kahlo’s technique over burning coals. We had not heard such a scathing criticism of an artist’s works since while attending Lorin Maazel’s 1984 at the Royal Opera House, one attendee remarked that it bore resemblance more to an Andrew Lloyd Weber production than a Puccini, Verdi, or even Mozart.

Conversely Richard Dorment at The Telegraph although also having initial fears “that Kahlo would be one of those artists who is fine in small doses but tedious in a large-scale exhibition,” he decided that “her work is enhanced by being shown in depth because you can trace the course of her life from painting to painting, and see how themes that appear early on are refined and re-thought in later pictures.” Not exactly a glowing recommendation but more positive than the previous review.

Sadly, these are the only reviews that London media could provide. It seems that other newspapers couldn’t be bothered to critically assess the first exhibition of Frida Kahlo ever in the UK. Regardless of the lack of coverage and sometimes biting assessments of Kahlo’s skill, Londonist has “big plans” for our Friday evening at the Tate Modern.

Frida Kahlo on at the Tate Modern, 9 June - 9 October 2005, £10 (£8 concessions) with guided tours running on Wednesdays and Fridays for an additional £5.

Last Updated 20 June 2005