Thursday, March 15, 2012

Some thoughts on Frida...

Frida Kahlo's last-known diary entry (1954)...
Now, I cannot read Spanish, but what leaps out at me is this: were Frida alive today, she would be art journaling! Tell me now, what the heck does that page look like to you? I've seen countless numbers of pages just like it on Flickr. Frida art journaled before it was cool...Love it!

In my quest to define my style of watercoloring, I gave up and went to Frida. I didn't want to. My college art classes taught me long ago that her art was bold and colorful, but also surrealistic and abstract as well. (Abstract being what it meant in the 1940's and 50's, not what it is defined as today.)
The Two Fridas
My first art history instructor had done her post-graduate work on Frida and her muralist husband Diego Rivera, and she often shared lots of insight into how both were assessed and considered back when they first caused a stir in the art world. And this instruction occurred back in the 1970's, before Frida experienced the second look that made her popular today.

I learned a few delicious little factoids, such as Frida's native provincial and religious fascination with her millagros; some say that the little surrealist objects in her paintings (such as the hearts meticulously drawn on the both chests in The Two Fridas) were millagros she felt a need to honor, or that she meant her millagros to represent the surreal and abstract.
Sketch of her accident, made ex-voto style
At the time, I was like, yadayadayada -- so? But now that I am older and have a passion for art as opposed to merely a young person's interest, when I revisit her, I tend to believe this is true.  I now know enough about the ex-voto style and about millagros, offerings and shrines in Mexican culture. I totally see these "odd" surreal abstract additions to perfectly beautiful and often realistic paintings as millagros or ex-votos. It does not make it less surrealistic or abstract, just her own brand of it.
Diego and I
For all of her avant-garde and socialist/communist causes, she was essentially a traditional peasant daughter of Mexico. Throughout her life, she clung to traditional dreams of womanhood, even while she questioned and struggled with them. Frida's health was never good after contracting polio and then crushing her pelvis in an accident. So, giving birth to children was forbidden. I believe if she could have carried a child, she would have been most content to be a mother and molder of Rivera's progeny. Instead, art became her child and her therapy.
She was also dissed a lot back then as being a mere tag-along to her more famous husband and that accounted for any attention paid to her work. My instructor would point to her independent relationships in between her two marriages to Rivera. She was accepted and valued in the bohemian world of the new artists in Europe and New York City, separately, on her own. It was only a year, but a large time in her short life. Still, she chose to return to Rivera and what was her tradition.

I knew I shared nothing with Frida except love of color, but it was fun researching her, nontheless.
Do you have any thoughts about Frida or her art to share? I'd love to read them.
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