Museum desperately seeks Frida Kahlo painting last seen in Poland

Young visitors take pictures on November 28, 2017 at the entrance of the exhibition on the famed Mexican married Mexican couple Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at the ZAMEK Culture Center in Poznan, Poland. (AFP)
Updated 03 December 2017
0

Museum desperately seeks Frida Kahlo painting last seen in Poland

POZNAN: After taking an overnight bus to Poznan in Poland for an exhibition on Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, two Portuguese sisters are now standing in front of a curious blue suggestion box.
“Who can tell us what happened to the missing painting or where we can find it?” reads a sign next to a photo of Kahlo’s largest work, “The Wounded Table,” a mysterious surrealist masterpiece that vanished without a trace in Warsaw more than half a century ago.
“I wrote that the painting was probably destroyed. Or it could have been stolen and sold on the black market,” says 21-year-old Ines Cavaco, currently studying in the Polish city of Krakow.
“For sure. It’s sitting in someone’s living room,” adds her sister Joana, a 23-year-old megafan who did her hair up with flowers in homage to Kahlo’s trademark look.
A black-and-white replica of the horizontal oil painting, a double self-portrait with Kahlo represented both as herself and a wounded table dripping with blood, can be seen until January 21 at “Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: Polish Context.”
The exhibition at the ZAMEK Culture Center — a castle built for Kaiser Wilhelm II and later meant to be a residence for Adolf Hitler — spotlights the famed married couple’s little-known links to Poland.
Several dozen of their works shine against a vibrant yellow wall that recalls Kahlo’s bright palette and love of life, despite loneliness and pain brought on by lifelong health issues and Rivera’s many affairs, including with her sister.
The exhibition also features work by two Polish-born Jewish artists close to the couple: photographer Bernice Kolko, who captured Kahlo on her deathbed, and muralist Fanny Rabel, one of Kahlo’s most devoted students.
Finally, a blue room focuses on the 1955 Warsaw exhibition of Mexican art where “The Wounded Table” was last shown.
“It must be somewhere. It cannot have just disappeared. Such a big painting. Unless they burnt it in an oven in the 1950s,” curator Helga Prignitz-Poda told AFP.
“That is one of the reasons why I made the exhibition. Because somebody in Poland might remember that he had seen this painting once somewhere.”
At 2.4 meters long by 1.2 meters high (eight by four feet), larger than a standard door, the painting was unusual for Kahlo, who preferred to work small, unlike her muralist husband Rivera.
The artist known for her unibrow, long skirts and heavy jewelry created the painting for the 1940 International Exhibition of Surrealism in Mexico City. For a long time it hung in her dining room, before she donated it to the Soviet Union out of love for communism.
The Last Supper-like work was then sent to Warsaw for the exhibition that would travel around several socialist countries, but the painting never made it past the first stop.
Prignitz-Poda points out that while the painting is considered great today and would be worth around $20 million (17 million euros), back then its “surreal absolutely cruel depiction of the double Frida” went against the preferred socialist realist style.
“There were official statements saying that this painting is not exhibitable, that it is so terrible that they really didn’t find it worth the money to pay for transport. It is possible that the (Russian) landlords didn’t want it back,” she said.
For Prignitz-Poda, who just published the book “Hidden Frida Kahlo: Lost, Destroyed, or Little-Known Works,” the disappearance is frustrating because only half of Kahlo’s 300 works are available to see. The rest are missing, burnt or in collections that never lend.
“I’m happy that I got to see even a bit of this legend in the original. Mexico’s far,” said 56-year-old actor Krzysztof Najbor, who took the train up from his southern mountain town of Zakopane for the exhibition.
“After leaving a gallery, my family and I always ask ourselves what we’d walk off with. What we’d like to have at home. Well, there was this small Frida self-portrait that I really liked,” he told AFP with a laugh.
The self-portrait is still there. And “The Wounded Table” is still missing, despite many contributions to the suggestion box.
“People write all kinds of funny things. That because the table’s wounded, the painting must be at the hospital. Or it’s at Putin’s place. Or under their rug at home,” ZAMEK director Anna Hryniewiecka told AFP.
“Drawings too. Children make little maps of how to find the painting. There are reviews of the exhibition. But no information that would actually point us toward some kind of clue.”
But there is hope for a happy ending: a Rivera mural, “Glorious Victory,” that also disappeared in the mid-1950s was discovered in the storerooms of Moscow’s Pushkin Museum in 2000.


Like a Berber: Madonna celebrates 60th birthday in Marrakech

Updated 19 August 2018
0

Like a Berber: Madonna celebrates 60th birthday in Marrakech

  • The Queen of Pop donned the attire of a “Berber Queen” in Marrakech on her birthday
  • On Sunday, the American star posted pictures and videos on her Instagram of a fun photo shoot with British-Moroccan artist Hassan Hajjaj

JEDDAH: Madonna’s 60th birthday celebrations are creating quite a buzz, especially delighting her Arab fans that she chose to mark the milestone in Morocco.
The Queen of Pop donned the attire of a “Berber Queen” in Marrakech on her birthday, wearing a fuchsia chiffon long-sleeved gown by Gucci with Berber jewelry and a headpiece by Marianna Harutunian.
On Sunday, the American star posted pictures and videos on her Instagram of a fun photo shoot with British-Moroccan artist Hassan Hajjaj, known as the “Andy Warhol of Marrakech.” Madonna, who posed for pictures with her family, is seen dressed in a traditional red attire, accessorized with colorful jewelry and a Louis Vuitton headscarf.
“Life can be sweet and sour and sometimes a surprise can happen that you never would think of and this was one of (those) moments; want to thank Madonna and her lovely family and being patient for the shoot at my riad,” Hajjaj wrote on Instagram.
Hashtagged #birthday #magic #Marakesh, Madonna’s pictures have gone viral on social media since she first posted a portrait of herself bedecked in Berber jewelry and brandishing a sign that reads “The Queen.” She wrote: “Finally and at last it’s my birthday! I have survived! Life is beautiful!”
On the eve of the big day, she toured the former imperial city of Morocco under the close watch of the paparazzi and wrote: “Walking through the Labyrinth of the Medina during the Call to Prayer.” She posted a video shot at night, wandering in the alleys of the city’s ancient market.
“Mystical walk through the desert,” she captioned a photo featuring her in the desert, with six horsemen holding candles in the background.
Another portrait shows Madonna wearing a fez decorated with Berber jewelry, along with a caption reading: “Today I am wearing CAKE on my head!“
Known for repeatedly reinventing herself during her 35-year pop career, Madonna has been staying at the luxury palace-turned-hotel El Fenn, owned by the sister of British billionaire Richard Branson, Vanessa. The property has been redecorated and staff have had their smart phones confiscated to protect the privacy of Madonna and her guests. The birthday guest list has also been kept secret, and Moroccan police were keeping journalists and photographers at bay.
Guests reportedly dressed in traditional Bedouin garb for the Arabian-themed party featuring Berber music. According to the Mirror, Indian designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee designed kaftans and Berber costumes for them.
Agence France-Presse reported a local photographer as saying that he had spotted Madonna wearing a veil covering the hair and face but for the eyes. She reportedly visited the five-star Kasbah Agafay spa, went shopping at a souk and enjoyed a camel trek in the desert.
Local media reported that she and around 15 friends had dined out at a restaurant in western Morocco, escorted by bodyguards and under police surveillance.
Taking to social media under the hashtag #MadonnaAt60, fans from across the world sent birthday wishes to the pop diva. Since her first, eponymous album came out in 1983, Madonna has sold more than 300 million records, with albums such as “True Blue,” “Like a Prayer” and “Ray of Light” topping music charts around the world.