Monday, July 26, 2010

96 - Frida Kahlo: The Still Lifes; Salomon Grimberg

I've been rather fascinated by Frida Kahlo's art ever since I had read a biography about her, and  after I had seen the movie Frida starring Salma Hayek as Frida.

Frida Kahlo did not have an easy life, and her art seemed to reflect her inner most thoughts and her private pain.  It has been reported that much of her art is representative of the loneliness she experienced in her life. She also had a morbid preoccupation with death, and one of her last diary entries read, "I hope the end is joyful -- and I hope I never come back".. She was just 47 years old when she died (1907-1954), yet she was one of the most influential Mexican painters of the mid-20th century.

At age 6, Frida contracted polio which left her with a thinner right leg. At the age of 18, a horrible accident left her with a broken spine and pelvis, and as a result she was unable to have children. She married the love of her life, Mexican painter Diego Rivera, but that marriage was a disaster.  However, it was during this time that her art seemed to evolve.

In Frida Kahlo: The Still Lifes, the author, Salomon Grimberg, is a psychoanalytic art historian, who has written extensively about Frida Kahlo. Here are a few of the still life paintings that I was fascinated by.....sorry about the quality but, these were snapped with my phone directly from the book (oops)

 Memory (1937)

This painting is suppose to be a self-portrait of the anguish Frida suffered when her husband Diego Rivera had an affair with Frida's sister Christina.  The helplessness and despair she must have felt can be evidenced by the ---broken and bloody heart on the ground; sword through her heart; no hands

Girl With Death Mask ; She Plays Alone (1938)

This painting was done when she separated from her husband Diego. The mask actually was to have belonged to her husband, most likely indicating she still wanted him close to her, yet also symbolizing her destruction.

Flower of Life (1943)

The plant in the photo is a mandrake root which since biblical times was said to cure infertility. (Frida was unable to have children because of her accident).  Oddly, Frida made some modifications to this mandrake root in her art, which resembled sex organs and was believe to symbolize her missing ovaries and her inability to conceive.

There are so many other great paintings in this 175 page book. Approximately 40 still life paintings which are discussed in detail.  For anyone who enjoys Mexican art, and more specifically Kahlo's unique style. 

RECOMMENDED. - 4.5/5 stars (Library Copy)


  1. I loved the book I read about Kahlo so I'll be on the lookout for this. It sounds fascinating.

  2. I've always been fascinated by things for which I have zero skills — no one wants to be my partner in Pictionary! I'd love to have a gander at the artwork in this book just to marvel at the talent of another. *sigh*

  3. The is the first time I have ever seen Kahlo's work, and have to admit that it is really haunting. I really want to learn more about her, so perhaps this would be a good place to start. Thanks for the great review!

  4. This sounds fascinating. They symbolism in her paintings makes me think of Salvador Dali.

  5. How beautiful she and her work were! I've seen most of these before, but thanks for reminding me, and brightening my day.

  6. I have been a Frida fan for around 20 years, ever since I saw a documentary about her on PBS. I don't agree with many of the things she did in her life, but if only we could all live so passionately.

  7. I've been passionate about Kahlo since I was 14 and saw my first exhibit of her works. This book looks great!!!

    Life by Candlelight

  8. I loved the movie with Salma Hayek! The Herrera book is on my list of possible reads for Women Unbound challenge. I'm looking forward to it. Such interesting paintings. I like what Zibilee said ... "haunting."

  9. I'm a big fan of Frida's artwork. I think she was a fascinating woman and painter. Thank you for mentioning this book. I hadn't heard of it but I'm adding it to my list.

    I got to see Frida's house in Mexico City quite a few years ago and it was such a treat for me.

  10. I know next to nothing about her so I would have to start at the beginning. I can say though, that I liked the insight this person gave on those painting!!


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