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Tuesday 20 March 2018

Dispute erupts over Barbie doll of artist Frida Kahlo

Kahlo’s great-niece said Mattel does not have the rights to use the artist’s image.

Frida Kahlo (Nickolas Muray/The Victoria and Albert Museum/PA)
Frida Kahlo (Nickolas Muray/The Victoria and Albert Museum/PA)

By AP reporter

Toy-maker Mattel is in dispute with a distant relative of Frida Kahlo over rights to a Barbie doll of the late Mexican artist released as part of the company’s Inspiring Women series.

Kahlo’s great-niece Mara de Anda Romeo said Mattel does not have the rights to use the artist’s image.

Pablo Sangri, a lawyer for Ms de Anda Romeo, said his client is not seeking money but wants Mattel to talk about redesigning the doll.

“We will talk to them about regularising this situation, and by regularising I mean talking about the appearance of the doll, its characteristics, the history the doll should have to match what the artist really was,” Mr Sangri said.

Critics have complained that the doll does not reflect Kahlo’s heavy, nearly conjoined eyebrows, and they say its costume does not accurately portray the elaborate Tehuana-style dresses the artist wore.

Barbie is a famous American brand that has often been criticised for promoting an unrealistic body image and consumerist lifestyle. Kahlo was a life-long communist who died in 1954 before the doll was introduced.

Mattel said in a statement that it worked with the Panama-based Frida Kahlo Corp “which owns all the rights”.

“The Frida Kahlo Corporation actively participated in the process of designing the doll, Mattel has its permission and a legal contract that grants it the rights to make a doll of the great Frida Kahlo,” the company’s statement said.

The corporation said it got the rights through Kahlo’s niece, Isolda Pinedo Kahlo, more than a decade ago.

The corporation said in a statement that it “celebrates the ideological contributions of Frida Kahlo which have transcended the borders of art and which will influence new generations as a world icon through the Frida Kahlo Barbie, which conserves the essence of Barbie and the legacy of Frida Kahlo”.

Press Association

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