May 15, 2005 6:39 PM   Subscribe

Frida Kahlo has a show opening at the Tate Modern in Britain. The Mexican artist was married to famous muralist Diego Rivera. Frida learned how to paint after suffering a horrible accident and attended her first and only opening in Mexico in her bed after years of pain. Pain and suffering are common themes in her work, which is widely known and largely focused on self-portraiture.
posted by grapefruitmoon (8 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
And patron saint of monobrows everywhere.
posted by HTuttle at 10:43 PM on May 15, 2005

Thanks for the informative post, GFM ...

That said, I never really liked Kahlo's stuff much, nor do I understand just why it is so consistently popular all over. I'm open to learn, but I've never been one to overcome my own initial distastes. I'm not trying to trash the post or her or anything, just my take on her art.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:01 PM on May 15, 2005

That said, I never really liked Kahlo's stuff much, nor do I understand just why it is so consistently popular all over.
She wasn't always that popular. She remained in Diego Rivera's shadow for a good while. Her recent popularity owes a lot to Madonna and to Salma Hayek. However, it's also pretty obvious (after seeing people falling in love with her work) that the very special correspondence between her life and her painting speaks a lot to people, (and particularly to women?). There's something of the Passion of the Christ there. Btw, there's a theatre play about her in Paris right now.
posted by elgilito at 3:04 AM on May 16, 2005

One wonders how popular her work would be if she had worked anonymously.
posted by RavinDave at 5:22 AM on May 16, 2005

I guess it comes down to what you yourself like. I don't agree with what you're implying RavinDave. I love her work. It's surrealism suffused with an autobiopictorial agony element and inclusion of some traditional Mexican forms. It's unique that's for sure.
But it's a bit disingenuous to imply that its status derives from Madonna or Hayek (who should have been awarded the A.Award over Kidman!) -- if that's what you mean -- she was fairly well recognized in the surrealist world while alive, with Breton particularly being a big fan. She possibly 'suffered' more by being for a long time in the shadow of Rivera.

And if she had been anonymous, it (her work) will still have attracted a lot of attention - it's very obvious that the artist had had some serious medical conditions. Quite conceivably the art would have become very famous for that splash of intrigue but only because it will have been an intrigue on a background of great quality art (according to some of us lay admirers - and I think also the majority of the so-called art critics and artists, if not the general public).
Obviously she is very well known, mostly because of the film Frida. I had only vaguely heard of her until the movie was bandied about. Incidentally, it's definitely in my top 5 films of all time.
Thanks grapefruitmoon ! Too bad it's 16.997km away.

Oh, and I love this: 'I drank because I wanted to drown my sorrows, but now the damn things have learned to swim.'
posted by peacay at 6:48 AM on May 16, 2005

"Pain and suffering are common themes in her work..."
And, it would appear, so are monobrows. Sorry, I couldn't resist.
posted by nlindstrom at 7:52 AM on May 16, 2005

But it's a bit disingenuous to imply that its status derives from Madonna or Hayek

I meant her current iconic status that have made her a very recognisable figure (her face is plastered all over Paris because of the play). You say yourself that you had only vaguely heard of her before the movie came out... In fact, I checked a couple of older dictionaries, including an art one, and there was no mention of her as a standalone artist. She was just an interesting footnote in Rivera's biography (at least seen from abroad). About her success with the surrealists, it seems that she was also something of a curiosity for them, the weird woman painter from Mexico. Now, she's got twice more google hits than her former superstar of a husband.

I'd say that she was for a long time some sort of cult artist, and it's only in the past 25 years that her status was raised to that of a major popular artist. This is not uncommon: Vermeer and La Tour are also prime examples of this sort of rediscovery (very late in their case).
posted by elgilito at 8:53 AM on May 16, 2005

"I never really liked Kahlo's stuff much"

I'm in this camp too. Kahlo was a very notable female artist and there aren't enough of those. So i applaud her for that. Plus her story is just so plain awful too.
posted by Mme. Robot at 11:35 AM on May 19, 2005

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