Kahlo’s prosthetic leg with leather boot of appliquéd silk with embroidered Chinese motifs. Photograph: Javier Hinojosa/© Diego Riviera and Frida Kahlo Archives, Banco de México, Fiduciary of the Trust of the Diego Riviera and Frida Kahlo Museums.
“She was taking control,” said Wilcox. “She was subjected to wearing these very uncomfortable corsets in order to support her back and I think she just wanted to take possession of them.”
In 1953, she had her leg amputated and the prosthetic leg she had to have will also be leaving Mexico. It was an object of defiance, said Wilcox.
“Being Frida, it’s quite – if it’s possible – a joyful object. She has clad it in a bright red leather boot and had it embroidered and tied bells on to it. It is so powerful and it is very exciting that these objects were saved and they are coming to the V&A.”
The show will be an expanded version of one staged at the Frida Kahlo Museum in 2012 and will include her paintings as well as photographs of Kahlo and Rivera and their wide circle of friends. They included the founder of surrealism, André Breton, and Leon Trotsky, who lived in the Blue House for two years from 1937. By 1940, Trotsky was dead after an assassin plunged an ice axe into his skull.
Wilcox said Kahlo seemed to have a timeless appeal. “It is interesting how each new generation discovers Frida Kahlo. My 14-year-old niece is beside herself with excitement about this exhibition.”
• Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up will be at the V&A from 16 June to 4 November.