Frida Kahlo’s paintings and person illustrate the inevitable intertwining of freedom and pain, embodying the heroic reclamation of self and the repudiation of social repression through the art-making process. She is a woman both of her time and ours. Born in 1907, on the cusp of a new century, she was a radical in imagining and then asserting a peculiarly adventuresome artistic, sexual, and political identity. In her paintings she blurred the realms of saints and shamans as well as the cosmological and the technological, often permitting shockingly personal depictions of her physical and psychological pain to bleed into the iconography of Mexico’s Aztec, colonial, and revolutionary history. This overturning of traditional approaches to thinking, seeing, and fantasizing is clear in the fearless self-portraits Kahlo constructed as well as in the life she lived.
This richly illustrated catalogue features more than 80 of Kahlo’s works, including the hauntingly seductive and often brutal self-portraits, as well as a selection of key portraits and still lifes that span the years of her career, up to her death in 1954. New critical essays by Elizabeth Carpenter, Hayden Herrera, and Victor Zamudio-Taylor examine Kahlo’s position within art history and visual culture. Also reproduced are more than 100 photographs that belonged to Kahlo and her husband, renowned Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, some taken by eminent photographers of the period such as Lola Alvarez Bravo, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Gisèle Freund, Tina Modotti, and Nickolas Muray. More personal snapshots show Kahlo with family and friends, among them luminaries André Breton and Leon Trotsky, and many carry graphic inscriptions and interventions by the artist. An illustrated timeline, bibliography, and exhibition history offer added context.