Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I went to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit at SF MOMA today. It was wonderful! I have seen Frida's work in 3 or 4 exhibits over the years--plus what I saw when I visited Mexico a long time ago. But this show has more of her paintings than I have ever seen together in one show before. Well worth the visit. And seeing her work in person is SO different than seeing reproductions. They are so exquisitely painted--once you see them, you don't even want to buy a book because the repros pale so in comparison to the originals. Some of the pieces I really love are: "My Nurse and I", "Luther Burbank", "Two Nudes in a Forest", and "Portrait of Dona Rosita Morillo". One painting that I never liked too much in reproduction, but loved in person was "The Love Embrace of the Universe..." Her famous husband, Diego Rivera, always said that Frida was the better painter and he was right!

I was influenced by Frida's work when I discovered her in the late 70's. I remember going to a film showing at the Roxy Theater in SF in the early 80's to see a documentary film about Frida and Diego. I dressed up like Frida, which I did periodically in those days. There were about 5 "Fridas" at the opening. It was festive and fun.

Frida lived during an extremely fertile creative time in Mexico. She liked to present herself as sort of a "self made" artist, but the truth was that she was very well educated and aware of the art world. She was a high achiever as a young student & had planned to study medicine befor her accident intervened. Some of the images in her later paintings reflect this interest.

In addition to the changes that were taking place in the culture of Mexico itself, there was a big influx of artists and intellectuals who came to Mexico seeking asylum from war torn Europe during the late 30's and early 40's. Two other women artists who came to Mexico and made it home (& whose work I love) are Remedios Varo and Eleanor Carrington. They were best friends and both incredible artists. (Carrington is still living, I believe) If you don't know about them, check them out. You will be amazed.

Image: "Autoretrato Como Frida Kahlo" Acrylic on canvas with mixed media Original is in a private collection

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