Frida in America: The Creative Awakening of a Great Artist

Frida in America: The Creative Awakening of a Great Artist

by Celia Stahr


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The riveting story of how three years spent in the United States transformed Frida Kahlo into the artist we know today

"[An] insightful debut....Featuring meticulous research and elegant turns of phrase, Stahr’s engrossing account provides scholarly though accessible analysis for both feminists and art lovers." —Publisher's Weekly

Mexican artist Frida Kahlo adored adventure. In November, 1930, she was thrilled to realize her dream of traveling to the United States to live in San Francisco, Detroit, and New York. Still, leaving her family and her country for the first time was monumental.

Only twenty-three and newly married to the already world-famous forty-three-year-old Diego Rivera, she was at a crossroads in her life and this new place, one filled with magnificent beauty, horrific poverty, racial tension, anti-Semitism, ethnic diversity, bland Midwestern food, and a thriving music scene, pushed Frida in unexpected directions. Shifts in her style of painting began to appear, cracks in her marriage widened, and tragedy struck, twice while she was living in Detroit.

Frida in America is the first in-depth biography of these formative years spent in Gringolandia, a place Frida couldn’t always understand. But it’s precisely her feelings of being a stranger in a strange land that fueled her creative passions and an even stronger sense of Mexican identity. With vivid detail, Frida in America recreates the pivotal journey that made Senora Rivera the world famous Frida Kahlo.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250113382
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/03/2020
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 66,681
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Celia Stahr is a professor at the University of San Francisco, where she specializes in modern American and contemporary art with an emphasis on feminist art and gender studies, as well as African and multicultural art. She holds a Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Iowa and lives in the Bay Area.

Customer Reviews

Frida in America: The Creative Awakening of a Great Artist 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Kacey14 19 days ago
Rating: 4 illuminating stars Let me first state that I am a big Frida Kahlo fan. I have read several biographies about her. I have even been to her ‘Blue House’ (family home) museum in the Coyoacan neighborhood of Mexico City. While in Mexico City, I also visited Museum of Modern art, which displays many of her paintings. I am not an art historian, but I do enjoy art, and art history. This book helped deepen my appreciation for Frida Kahlo’s work, and her tumultuous life. Its primary focus is the three years that she and her new husband, the muralist, Diego Rivera spent in the United States. During that time, they visited San Francisco, Detroit, and New York. I appreciated the way that the author interwove Kahlo’s life events of that visit with artwork she created. It gave me a deeper understanding of the underlying meaning of some of Kahlo’s paintings. Kahlo was a woman of many layers and moods. She strove to stretch herself personally and artistically. Celia Stahr’s book helped me better understand more of the layers that drove Kahlo to become the artist that the world knows today. This was an interesting and extensive biography of a short period in Frida Kahlo’s’ life. It included the people and events who shaped that life. I found it entertaining and educational. ‘Thank-You’ to NetGalley; the publisher, St. Martin’s Press; and the author, Celia Stahr, for providing a free e-ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Kat-E 19 days ago
Frida in America explores the life of famed artist Frido Kahlo, concentrating on her visit to America which was a profound experience for her. I enjoyed the detailed descriptions and symbolism the author used on her paintings which often reflected the physical agony the young artist endured from her injuries sustained in a horrific bus accident. This near death experience changed the trajectory of her life from the medical field to becoming an artist as she never fully recovered from the severity of the bus crash. Photos of her work would have really added an important dimension to this book. The story read more like a college text book than a biography and the abundance of footnotes I found distracting. This story does give amazing insight to Frida's strong and independent personality and how events shaped her to become a tortured and brilliant artist. It was just a very slow read and I did find myself skimming through parts. .If you do mind a technical and very thorough view on Frida I feel you will enjoy this book.
GGGeiss 20 days ago
Frida in America is a biography of Frida Kahlo, during the time she lived in the United States. It’s an intricately researched and intimate look into Frida, her painting and her tumultuous life with Diego Rivera. I have always been intrigued with Frida and Diego and enjoyed the exhibitions of their work. However, I skimmed much of the middle section, as I found It laborious to read. Brava to Celia Stahr for her careful and organized gathering of information. Frida and Diego, a complex couple of genius skill, are brought to life on the pages of this biography. Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read and review this ARC.
PBDeb 23 days ago
Frida in America by Celia Stahr If you are an art history major, this is your book. The life of Frida Kahlo, and, secondarily, her famous painter husband, Diego Rivera, is told in this extremely well researched book. Frida’s artistic life and her marriage to Diego were inarguably influenced by living three years in the United States. The stories of their travels to San Francisco, New York City and Detroit are interesting. Who Frida and Diego meet and spend time with is important to their overall history. Where the author looses me is in her exhaustive pages -long details on every painting she describes. The minutiae of every detail, such as the placement of a hand to the position of a head and what that means, is mind boggling. The story, put together largely from diaries and journals, is not a very flattering portrait of Frida nor Diego, and you can’t have one without the other. They are immature and temperamental philanderers who despise America, yet are happy to live well and accept money from the wealthy they abhor. Other eye opening facts in the story include those of the Henry Ford and John Rockefeller families. While Frida was fragile in most of her relationships, she was also an avid feminist. For that she received criticism and little notice of her true artistic prowess until later in life. All in all this is not a very feel good tell-all of Frida and Diego-their lives were complicated-but it’s one you’ll not easily forget. My thanks to #StMartinsPress and #NetGalley for an ARC for this review.
eyes2c 23 days ago
Frida Kahlo. I love her work, her ideas, and the colourfulness of her personality. This book covers the years Frida spent in the United States and how that influenced her aesthetically and politically. Celia Stahr has captured the person of Frida. One idea that struck me was that, 'the duality of life for the Aztecs, as for Frida, was a bringing together of opposites. “Everything is all and one."' Added to this was that that "notion of duality remained rooted in the land, and it shaped Frida’s psyche," and is reflected in her work. In its unpacking, a foundational concept about Frida and her creative spirit. Adding relevant art works or photographs would have enhanced the production, but despite this, Stahr's quite eloquent work about Frida is very readable. A St. Martin's Press ARC via NetGalley (Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.)
KWeldon 25 days ago
***I received a free copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Frida is America by Celia Stahr is an intriguing look at the fascinating Frida Kahlo and her three years she spent in America.  The author does give the reader brief information about before and after the three year period but the bulk of the book is set during those three very important years in her artistic career.  Frida was only 23 when she came to America for the first time.  Diego had a commission in San Fransisco.  The writing is very detailed when it came to describing the the paintings and Frida's clothing.  I stopped a number of times to look up a painting because I was fascinated by the descriptions.  The author is also very detailed about the symbolism that is present in Frida's art.   This book is the culmination of 10 years of research by Celia Stahr.  She had access to numerous letters, journals, diaries, and newspaper articles.  It is very detailed in every aspect of the book.  I found the history in this book fascinating.  At times I did feel there was too much information on their friends but these friends were well known and influential people that had an impact on Frida and Diego's lives.  This was not a light read but I feel the author did an amazing job putting together such a detailed account of their three years in America. Thank you to St. Martin's Press and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.  Biographies & Memoirs Release Date: March 3, 2020
PB_Reviews_2020 25 days ago
This was a fascinating look at how three years spent in the United States transformed Frida Kahlo into the artist she would become. It was no small task to be 23 years old and to leave her family and country. Yet, when one is married to Diego Rivera, one must make great leaps and that's exactly what Frida did. By taking this leap, Frida was able to experience everything from tremendous beauty to great poverty and racial tension, among other things, and it would be a sensory experience that would inspire her as an artist and challenge her after a personal tragedy Although other, more sweeping biographies have been written about Frida Kahlo, this one was fascinating mainly because of its focused study on her three years in "Gringolandia" which fascinated her mainly because she realized she was a stranger in a strange land. It's a riveting snapshot that provides insight into why Kahlo would become the artist she became. Kahlo fans will appreciate this perspective, and they will enjoy Celia Stahr's loving appraisal of her time in the United States. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an early copy of the book in exchange for this honest review.
Rachel_Denise01 25 days ago
Frida in America by Celia Stahr is a stunning biography into the fascinating and short life of the talented Frida (Frieda) Kahlo. This book focusses on the two years (1930/1932) that Frida and Diego Rivera visited, lived, and traveled throughout America. Ms Stahr was gracious enough to also give the reader plenty of insight into events that occurred in not only Frida’s life growing up and her earlier years before Rivera, but also the backgrounds of both her parents and many of her friends. I have been a passionate fan of Kahlo’s for over 20 years, and there were still things that I was able to read about that I did not know. It was amazing to be able to read in depth concerning all of her inspirations and influences, as well as a deep search into the meanings of her pictures, paintings, and her fashion. She was a true genius that was not truly appreciated while she was alive. This jam-packed biography was just what I needed to add another angle into one of my most beloved artists. Frida was intelligent, open, passionate, imperfect, beautiful, and sometimes tortured soul that was and emotional yet reserved. She was an amazing woman and artist who was trying to find herself and her place within her family and loved ones and the society that was at the very least judgmental, overbearing, and limited for women at that time. The author gave us a glimpse into that soul and her meticulously researched book definitely did Frida justice. I am impressed. 5/5 stars