Just one month ago the world was introduced to Faces of Frida, an exhaustive online study of 20th century Mexican artist Frida Kahlo published on the Google Arts and Culture platform.
The project is a collaboration among the Cincinnati Art Museum, the University of Cincinnati, Google Arts and Culture, and over 30 other cultural institution partners from seven countries.
Google Arts and Culture is a free online platform giving the public access to high-resolution images of artworks housed in partner museums. The Cincinnati Art Museum began its online partnership with Google Arts and Culture in 2013 with an eye toward preserving and promoting the museum’s painting and sculpture collections.
In 2016 the University of Cincinnati presented the exhibit, Frida in Focus, featuring photos of Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera by Bernard Silberstein, a photographer who taught at UC. The following year, the university and the art museum collaborated on an online exhibition hosted on the museum’s website, Frida Kahlo: Photographic Portraits by Bernard Silberstein.
Also in 2017, DPMT7, a Cincinnati-based architecture/design collective led by Vincent Sansalone, interior design assistant professor at UC, installed an exhibit at the Weston Gallery of eight reproductions of Silberstein’s photos of Kahlo and Rivera. The exhibit coincided with Cincinnati Opera’s presentation of Frida at the Aronoff Center.
From the museum-university collaboration and the partnership with Google Arts and Culture, Faces of Frida came into being. Under the helm of Emily Bauman, the museum’s Curatorial Assistant in Photography, the Kahlo project took several months to complete. “We launched the site on May 24th,” Bauman notes. “It’s very exciting to be able to look for Frida Kahlo’s work online and find it all in one place.”
For the Kahlo project, Google Arts and Culture developed over 20 detailed sections pertaining to her life and work, including such areas as the impact of Kahlo’s chronic illness on her art; the hidden stories and themes in her work; testimonies of influential photographers of the time discussing Kahlo’s impact; the meaning behind her self-portraiture; and discussions of her sometimes stormy marriage to Diego Rivera.
Thanks to Google’s street view technology, a “walk through” feature is provided, and Kahlo’s exact brushstrokes can be studied through Google’s gigapixel Art Camera system.
UC’s Assistant Vice President for Integrated Research, Jennifer Krivickas, praises the online exhibit for speaking to the mission of museums and public urban universities to serve students, researchers, and the community.
To view the online exhibit, visit g.co/facesoffrida (in Spanish, g.co/carasdefrida) or download the app on either IOS or Android.