Frida Kahlo stepped into the limelight in 1929 when she married Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. She was twenty-two; he was forty-three. Hailed as Rivera’s exotic young wife who “dabbles in art,” she went on to produce brilliant paintings but remained in her husband’s shadow throughout her life. Today, almost six decades after her untimely death, Kahlo’s fame rivals that of Rivera and she has gained international acclaim as a path-breaking artist and a cultural icon.
Cutting through “Fridamania,” this book explores Kahlo’s life, art, and legacies, while also scrutinizing the myths, contradictions, and ambiguities that riddle her dramatic story. Gannit Ankori examines Kahlo’s early childhood, medical problems, volatile marriage, political affiliations, religious beliefs, and, most important, her unparalleled and innovative art. Based on detailed analyses of the artist’s paintings, diary, letters, photographs, medical records, and interviews, the book also assesses Kahlo’s critical impact on contemporary art and culture.
Kahlo was of her time, deeply immersed in the issues that dominated the first half of the twentieth century. Yet, as this book reveals, she was also ahead of her time. Her paintings challenged social norms and broke taboos, addressing themes such as the female body, gender, cross-dressing, hybridity, identity, and trauma in ways that continue to inspire contemporary artists across the globe. Frida Kahlo is a succinct and powerful account of the life, art and legacy of this iconic artist.
About the Author
Gannit Ankori is professor of art history and theory at Brandeis University in Massachusetts and the author of Palestinian Art, also published by Reaktion Books.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Artist as Mythmaker; Fissured Tales of Art and Life
1 Family Tree: “My Grandparents, My Parents and I”
2 Childhood Traumas: The Broken Body, the Doubled Self
3 On the Cusp of Womanhood
4 Coming of Age
5 “The Lost Desire”: Relinquishing Maternity
6 “Double Sorrow”: Losing and Finding Love
7 “Where is the ‘I’?”: Losing and Finding her Selves
8 “Everything is All and One”: Losing and Finding Faith
9 “I am the Disintegration”: The Waning of Life
10 Of her Time; Ahead of her Time
Postscript: Frida Kahlo’s Art, Life and Legacy