Tuesday, July 06, 2010

¡Feliz Cumpleaños! ...

Frida Kahlo, internationally-acclaimed Mexican painter known for colorful, provocative images that were the stuff of symbologists' dreams, was born on this day in 1907.

Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón lived for only 44 years ... but what years they were! It was a vibrant and turbulent life that knew more than its share of pain ... all of which found its way onto canvas. She was married (twice) to famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, a man who was in so many ways like his works ... larger than life. That Kahlo could be so close to a man who cast such a giant shadow, yet continue to shine forth with her own brilliance, is a testament to her character and her art.

This year, she is featured in a world-wide, virtual exhibit, of sorts, in what has become a traditional online observance of special occasions - being selected as the subject of today's Google doodle.

Her obituary in the New York Times noted, "usually classed as a surrealist, the artist had no special explanation for her methods. She said only: 'I put on the canvas whatever comes into my mind.' She gave one-woman shows in Mexico City, New York and elsewhere, and is said to have been the first woman artist to sell a picture to the Louvre."

Yet, as her Wikipedia entry notes, "Kahlo's work was not widely recognized until decades after her death. Often she was popularly remembered only as Diego Rivera's wife. It was not until the early 1980s, when the artistic movement in Mexico known as Neomexicanismo began, that she became very prominent."

It was at that time, in the 80s, that San Antonio, Texas, hosted an exhibit that chronicled the prehistory and history of American art, including works by Kahlo. As the years passed, her profile continued to grow in America. In 2001, she became the first Hispanic woman to be honored with a U.S. postage stamp. In 2002, the American biographical film, Frida, was released. And in 2006, one of her paintings set an auction record for a Latin American work.

A good online source about Kahlo, is the official Frida Kahlo site ... which, by the way, is a truly beautiful site. Another good source is the Casa Azul, in Coyoacán, Mexico City, where she lived and worked, and is now a museum housing artifacts of her life. Now that Cruz Azul is open to the public, I hope to return to Mexico City some day, and visit.

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