A Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Art

By Ian Chilvers | Go to book overview

K

Kaesbach, Walter. See HECKEL.

Kahler, Eugen. See BLAUE REITER.

Kahlo, Frida (1907-54). Mexican painter, the daughter of a German-born photographer and a Mexican mother. In 1925, at a time when she was preparing to enter medical school, she suffered appalling injuries in a traffic accident, leaving her a permanent semi-invalid, often in severe pain. During her convalescence she began painting portraits of herself and others. She remained her own favourite model and her art was usually directly autobiographical: 'I paint myself because I am so often alone.' In 1928 she married Mexico's most famous artist, Diego *Rivera, who was twice her age and twice her size. Their relationship was often strained, but it lasted to her death, through various separations, divorce and remarriage ( 1939-41), and infidelities on both sides (one of her lovers was Leon Trotsky, who was assassinated while living in her house in Coyoacán, Mexico City, in 1940). Kahlo was mainly self-taught as a painter. She was influenced by Rivera, but more by Mexican folk art, and her work has a colourful, almost *naive vigour, tinged with *Surrealist fantasy ( André *Breton arranged an exhibition of her work in Paris in 1939, but she did not regard herself as a Surrealist--'I never painted my dreams, I painted my own reality'--and she was scathing about the Surrealists she met apart from Marcel *Duchamp, 'the only one who has his feet on the earth').

Kahlo's paintings of her own physical and psychic pain are narcissistic and nightmarish, but also--like her personality--fiery and flamboyant ( Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin, 1940). Rivera described her work as 'acid and tender, hard as steel, and delicate and fine as a butterfly's wing, loveable as a beautiful smile, and profound and cruel as the bitterness of life'. Her paintings were widely shown in Mexico and in the year of her Paris exhibition ( 1939) she also had a successful show in New York, but during her lifetime she was overshadowed by her husband. Since her death, however, her fame has grown and she has become something of a feminist heroine, admired for her refusal to let great physical suffering crush her spirit or interfere with her art and her left-wing political activities. Her house in Coyoacán was opened as a museum dedicated to her in 1958.

Kahnweiler, Daniel-Henri (1884-1979). German-born art dealer, publisher, and writer, who became a French citizen in 1937. He was a banker by training but not by temperament, and he persuaded rich banker uncles to support him in opening a gallery in Paris--in the rue Vignon--in 1907. Initially he knew nothing about the art trade and simply bought what he liked, his first purchases being paintings by three of the * Fauves--*Braque, * Derain, and * Vlaminck. He was soon buying *Cubist works by Braque and * Picasso, and in 1912 both these artists signed contracts giving Kahnweiler an exclusive right to purchase their entire outputs. He was also a friend and supporter of * Gris, of whom he wrote a standard biography ( 1946). As well as marketing paintings, Kahnweiler acted as a publisher, bringing out numerous books illustrated by the artists in whose work he dealt (see LIVRE D'ARTISTE). During the First World War he lived in neutral Switzerland, returning to Paris in 1920. Because he was German, his stock had been confiscated during the war and it was sold in 1921-3. Another blow was that several of his artists, including Picasso, had gone over to Paul *Rosenberg. Nevertheless he set up another gallery, and in the interwar years the artists in whom he dealt

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A Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Art
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction vii
  • Abbreviations xiv
  • A 1
  • B 46
  • C 106
  • D 154
  • E 189
  • F 204
  • G 228
  • H 264
  • I 293
  • J 299
  • K 308
  • L 332
  • M 360
  • N 426
  • O 450
  • P 461
  • Q 502
  • R 503
  • S 540
  • T 605
  • U 626
  • V 631
  • W 646
  • X 663
  • Y 665
  • Z 667
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