Jean Paul Gaultier honours Frida Kahlo and artists felled by pandemics during the Day of the Dead

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View of a picture of Frida Kahlo, which is part of the altar for the Day of the Dead in the Frida Kahlo Museum, designed by French fashion designer Gaultier in collaboration with local artists. It is based on Kahlo's painting 'The Wounded Table'. (Photo: Jair Cabrera Torres/ Getty Images)
View of a picture of Frida Kahlo, which is part of the altar for the Day of the Dead in the Frida Kahlo Museum, designed by French fashion designer Gaultier in collaboration with local artists. It is based on Kahlo's painting 'The Wounded Table'. (Photo: Jair Cabrera Torres/ Getty Images)

A traditional Day of the Dead “offering” in Frida Kahlo’s iconic home in Mexico City has taken on a wider artistic homage, with an exhibition co-designed by French designer Jean Paul Gaultier. Created in collaboration with other artists, the 'Day of the Dead' altar also remembers artists who died this years and in past pandemics.

Mexico’s Day of the Dead festival blends Catholic rituals with the pre-Hispanic beliefs that the dead return once a year from the underworld. It is a celebration of the continuity of life.

Traditionally, Mexicans build Day of the Dead altars in their homes and outside, where they place pictures of the dead and items they enjoyed in life to honour them.

In Kahlo’s “Blue House,” which is now a museum, organizers put together an offering titled “The Restored Table: Memory and Reencounter,” in collaboration with Gaultier, who was a huge fan of the iconic Mexican artist. The offering included pictures of famed artists who died in previous pandemics, including Italian painter Tiziano, who passed away in 1576 when the plague ravaged Venice, and Austria’s Gustav Klimt, who died from the Spanish flu in 1918.

An altar for the Day of the Dead in the Frida Kahl
An altar for the Day of the Dead in the Frida Kahlo Museum was co-designed by French fashion designer Gaultier in collaboration with local artists. It is based on Kahlo's painting 'The Wounded Table'. (Photo: Jair Cabrera Torres/ Getty Images)
An altar for the Day of the Dead in the Frida Kahl
An altar for the Day of the Dead in the Frida Kahlo Museum was co-designed by French fashion designer Gaultier in collaboration with local artists. It is based on Kahlo's painting 'The Wounded Table'. (Photo: Jair Cabrera Torres/ Getty Images)
An altar for the Day of the Dead in the Frida Kahl
An altar for the Day of the Dead in the Frida Kahlo Museum was co-designed by French fashion designer Gaultier in collaboration with local artists. It is based on Kahlo's painting 'The Wounded Table'. (Photo: Jair Cabrera Torres/ Getty Images)
An altar for the Day of the Dead in the Frida Kahl
An altar for the Day of the Dead in the Frida Kahlo Museum was co-designed by French fashion designer Gaultier in collaboration with local artists. It is based on Kahlo's painting 'The Wounded Table'. (Photo: Jair Cabrera Torres/ Getty Images)
An altar for the Day of the Dead in the Frida Kahl
An altar for the Day of the Dead in the Frida Kahlo Museum was co-designed by French fashion designer Gaultier in collaboration with local artists. It is based on Kahlo's painting 'The Wounded Table'. (Photo: Jair Cabrera Torres/ Getty Images)
An altar for the Day of the Dead in the Frida Kahl
An altar for the Day of the Dead in the Frida Kahlo Museum was co-designed by French fashion designer Gaultier in collaboration with local artists. It is based on Kahlo's painting 'The Wounded Table'. (Photo: Jair Cabrera Torres/ Getty Images)

“It’s an interesting experience,” said Mariyah Efimova, a Russian tourist in the Mexican capital.

The offering also included an homage to Mexican artist Manuel Felguérez, who died from COVID-19, and marigolds, known in Mexico as “the flower of the dead”. The scent is believed to be strong and sweet enough to attract souls and draw them back.

Edna Romero, a mask-wearing visitor, said it was important for her family to learn about Kahlo and Mexican traditions such as Day of the Dead despite the tough times during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s very interesting and very cool,” said Romero. “I hope it will be a respite.”

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