Monday, May 01, 2006

Featuring Frida Kahlo




In 1953, when Frida Kahlo had her first solo exhibition in Mexico (the only one held in her native country during her lifetime), a local critic wrote: 'It is impossible to separate the life and work of this extraordinary person. Her paintings are her biography.' This observation serves to explain both why her work is so different from that of her contemporaries, the Mexican Muralists, and why she has since become a feminist icon. Her paintings were nearly all of herself and unflinching in their honesty and surrealistic expression of her struggles and experiences.

Frida Kahlo has earned my admiration, not only because she was a gifted artist, but because she overcame the obstacles of an extremely difficult life to do so. She had polio as a child and was housebound, recovering only to be involved in a horrible bus accident at the age of sixteen. Her body literally had to be pieced back together bit by bit and she was never free of pain from that time on, often bedridden again for periods of time. Before her death, the lower part of one leg had to be amputated. Her private showing in Mexico was a triumph. Her doctor had told her she must not leave her bed or she would risk her death. Instead, she had her bed carried to the opening in an ambulance so she could attend. A determined woman. A strong woman. A gifted woman. The love of her life was artist Diego Rivera.

I would highly recommend renting the doco 'The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo'.

12 comments:

Pat Paulk said...

Pris, you continue my education. Very interesting lady!! Amazing what some people can do in the midst of adversity!! Thank you!!

Ellen M Johns said...

I am fascinated by the shape and design of her eyebrow in this painting.

Natalia L. Rudychev said...

I love Frida's work. Thank you for recommending the documentary.

Pris said...

Thanks all of you for your comments. Natalia, isn't her artwork wonderful? She fascinates me. And Pat, yes, I agree. Maybe adversity forces us to pour our energy more deeply into creativity (then having talent helps, of course:-)

Ellen, in 'real life', she had quite thick dark eyebrows , which become exaggerated in most of her self portraits.

Endment said...

I just finished reading a book on Frida... My daughter loaned it to me... What a fascinating and talented person. I admire her determination!

Pris said...

I admire her tremendously, too. It takes courage to be different, whether in character or talent.

Lyle Daggett said...

It's true that most of her paintings were of herself, though her work did go through noticeable phases or stages. The earliest paintings include unusual still lifes, a painting (for example) of cactus fruits, and other odd ones. As her paintings matured she turned to the devastating self-portraits -- the icon-like close-ups, and the ones showing a somewhat more long-range view, the paintings with bodies on hospital beds, childbirth, that remarkable one showing herself twice, with heart and blood vessels outside the body.

Toward (what turned out to be) the end of her life, she started painting large complicated epic scenes, cityscapes, moving from archetypal to encompass history and mythology. I think it's possible, had she lived longer, that she might have begun doing actual murals, though of a dramatically different character than those of best-known muralists. I'm sure her work would have continued the searing self-revelation that characterizes most of her work.

I also liked the film "Frida" of a few years ago in which Salma Hayek plays Kahlo. Hayek does wonderfully with the part. I don't know enough detail of Kahlo's life to know how accurate the movie was. I felt sometimes it shied away a little from the political aspects of Kahlo's and Rivera's lives (though it didn't ignore these completely). I loved the music in the film -- I bought the CD of the soundtrack.

Thanks for posting this.

michi said...

i, too, enjoyed the film FRIDA, and due to the film and a few articles i know some things about her life, though not too many details. as lyle pointed out, the soundtrack was brilliant, esp "burn it blue" sung by the marvellous caetano veloso, with lila downs.

a very special, brave, gifted woman, frida kahlo.
thanks for the post, pris; i might just finish that frida poem i started after seeing the film. *S*

m

Pris said...

Thanks for the additional information. The doc does show a bit about her early ones that weren't self-portraits, but didn't get into the larger ones later in her life (that I could see, anyway). I'd like to watch that film, too. I can see how it would avoid some of their politics since they were pretty controversial if they wanted to keep the film out of 'issues'.

Hi Kiki
There's a film and a documentary. The latter is what I saw. It's probably more detailed and does go into her politics more. Now I have to see the other!

pepektheassassin said...

Don't miss it! It's great. Salma Hayek is superb!

Shane said...

The film was great - would be interesting to see the documentary

Pris said...

I've just ordered the film through Netflix. I was captivated by the doco!