Frida Kahlo: A Biography

Frida Kahlo: A Biography

Frida Kahlo: A Biography

Frida Kahlo: A Biography

Synopsis

Frida Kahlo, a beloved Mexican painter, overcame great illness and injury to create over 100 vibrant works depicting her life, her pain, and the symbols of her culture.

Excerpt

There are as many versions of the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo as there are biographers. Tracing the details of her 47 years is both entertaining and frustrating, since so much of what is known has been passed down in stories and even some tall tales. It is a hard task to sift through historical documents, personal letters, the remembrances of friends, and the handwritten comments left by the artist herself to try to figure out what actually happened and what has been embellished. There are many overlaps between different versions of the same story but, in the end, what matters most is that “Frida,” the recognizable face of the woman Frida Kahlo, is greater than the sum total of all of these fragments and contradictions. She is both what she did and what is said about her. Frida’s husband, Mexican artist Diego Rivera, took it upon himself to invent larger than life characters for both of them, and Frida followed his lead with additions of her own. Accounts of how radical and shocking Rivera’s contributions to the nightlife of Mexico’s artistic scene were, or how spiteful and flagrant Frida’s revenge on his womanizing was, vary according to the storyteller and the audience.

Like the history of modern Mexico, a nation that came into being around the same time that Frida was born, there is a lot of myth that complements and enriches plain facts. Cultures constantly renegotiate their ideas, beliefs, and customs, and this holds true for individuals as it does for communities. Modern though it may have been, Mexico in the decades of the twentieth century after the Revolution that began in 1910 was still built on a combination of the myths of revolutionary change and democratic rule, and the traditional foundational values inherited from . . .

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