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Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo Paperback – October 1, 2002
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"A haunting, highly vivid biography." (Ms. magazine)
About the Author
Hayden Herrera is an art historian. She has lectured widely, curated several exhibitions of art, taught Latin American art at New York University, and has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. She is the author of numerous articles and reviews for such publications as Art in America, Art Forum, Connoisseur, and the New York Times, among others. Her books include Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo; Mary Frank; and Matisse: A Portrait. She is working on a critical biography of Arshile Gorky. She lives in New York City.
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Top Customer Reviews
Author of AZUCAR! The Story of Sugar (a novel)
With a movie in the works (Selma Hayek plays Frida - that is after Laura San Giacomo, Madonna and Jennifer Lopez all had the part, and were dropped because Fridomexicans complained about the lack of Mexicanity in the actresses chosen to portrait their newly-found goddess), Kahlo is sure to solidify her position as the top-of-the-art-food-chain Latin American artist of the century (Georgia O'Keefe considered her the best female artist of the 20th century) and make her iconic face even more famous.
Kahlo deserves this position because she painted honestly and brutally. She painted her memorable Jewish-Austrian-Spanish-Mexican face, single eyebrow and slim moustache in stark honesty; she had many lovers of both sexes (when such a course of sex exploits was practically unknown); she grabbed her Mexicanity with a fierce pride and ferocity that would not be in vogue until decades after her death (Kahlo was born in 1907 and died in 1954) and yet during her life she was just the wife of a very famous Mexican muralist and a champagne Communist who partied with the Fords and Rockefellers while marching with the workers down the wide avenues of Mexico City. It is thus ironic that it is Kahlo, whose astonishing life and unique paintings are now the subject of lawsuits between governments and collectors, has taken the limelight from her talented womanizer husband and is rightfully considered one of the best artists of the 20th century, period. This is THE BOOK about her.
Frida was born in 1910 (the year the Mexican Revolution began)to a Mexican mother and German father in the same cobalt blue house in Coyoacan, a suburb of Mexico City, where she later worked and shared her life with the great muralist Diego Rivera. Ironically, it is the house where her life also ended. Today it is a museum, open to the public and still festooned with her beautiful collections of retablos, pottery, and Mexican folk art. Frida's life was consumed by pain as a result of suffering polio at age 6 and a bus/trolley collision as a teenager when, thrown from the bus, she was gored by a steel rail. Frida spent most years of her life bedridden and in body casts (which she also painted)after some 30 surgeries meant to alleviate her suffering. Throughout her life,and even while prone in a bed with a mirrored canopy, she painted herself because of the focus created by chronic pain and said, "I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone." Her self-portraits suggest deep meanings as her face is always encircled with images derived from her physical and psychological life. The paintings are vibrant and, typical of many of her women contemporaries' works, tiny.
Hayden Herrera's book presents a comprehensive life study of the great artist, incorporating photographs, diaries, letters, painting reproductions, eye witness accounts, and local history and politics in the most readable, enjoyable, intelligent work available. An art historian, Ms. Herrera is thoroughly knowledgeable and writes beautifully, as well. One will be as engrossed by this book as by any great novel. Her work convincingly recreates the scenes from Frida's life and populates them with important contemporaries Frida knew and loved, including Andre Breton, Leon Trotsky, Tina Modotti, Pablo Picasso, and, of course, her own Diego Rivera who called her the greatest painter of our time.
There isn't a more engaging biography available about Frida Kahlo (in second place is Herrera's other text, Frida Kahlo:The Paintings), and one need not be an art student to be enthralled by this work. Ms. Herrera's compassionate, energetic account will capture anyone who wonders just what Frida Kahlo was like--her inspirations, occupations, and truly vivacious approach to her one very painful and amazingly productive life.