Frida in America : the creative awakening of a great artist

by Stahr, Celia,

Format: Print Book 2020
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The riveting story of how three years spent in the United States transformed Frida Kahlo into the artist we know today

"[An] insightful debut....Featuring meticulous research and elegant turns of phrase, Stahr's engrossing account provides scholarly though accessible analysis for both feminists and art lovers." -- Publisher's Weekly

Mexican artist Frida Kahlo adored adventure. In November, 1930, she was thrilled to realize her dream of traveling to the United States to live in San Francisco, Detroit, and New York. Still, leaving her family and her country for the first time was monumental.

Only twenty-three and newly married to the already world-famous forty-three-year-old Diego Rivera, she was at a crossroads in her life and this new place, one filled with magnificent beauty, horrific poverty, racial tension, anti-Semitism, ethnic diversity, bland Midwestern food, and a thriving music scene, pushed Frida in unexpected directions. Shifts in her style of painting began to appear, cracks in her marriage widened, and tragedy struck, twice while she was living in Detroit.

Frida in America is the first in-depth biography of these formative years spent in Gringolandia , a place Frida couldn't always understand. But it's precisely her feelings of being a stranger in a strange land that fueled her creative passions and an even stronger sense of Mexican identity. With vivid detail, Frida in America recreates the pivotal journey that made Senora Rivera the world famous Frida Kahlo.

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Frida Kahlo traveled outside Mexico for the first time in 1930 at age 23, accompanying her husband, Diego Rivera older by 20 years, famous, unfaithful, and controversial as he completed commissioned works across the U.S. Marked by polio and the severe injuries she suffered in a trolley accident, Kahlo was tough, smart, mischievously irreverent, and disconcertingly candid. She had just started to paint, and her commitment to art and to artful self-presentation as a purposeful embodiment of Mexican cultures intensified during her three years in America as the shadow of the Great Depression spread across the land, and Kahlo contended with emotional and physical traumas among strangers. Stahr establishes the foundation of Kahlo's aesthetics--her extensive reading, work with her photographer father, and fascination with nature's interconnectivity, the Aztec embrace of duality, and alchemy--then elucidates the profound impact her sojourns in San Francisco, Detroit, and New York had on the arc of her creativity. By mining Kahlo's letters and the invaluable diary of her friend, artist Lucienne Bloch, Stahr establishes remarkably precise and incisive contexts for many of Kahlo's most shocking and revolutionary works, while also chronicling her complex relationships, including her involvement with Georgia O'Keeffe. Stahr brings new clarity to Kahlo's life and genius for creating audacious autobiographical tableaux which pose resounding questions about history, justice, gender, spirituality, and freedom.--Donna Seaman Copyright 2020 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Stahr, art professor at University of San Francisco, examines the creative evolution of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo during her time in America in this insightful debut. Coming to the U.S. in 1930 as an inexperienced artist and the much younger bride of renowned muralist Diego Rivera, Kahlo turned personal experiences into artistic statements and "was able to transform the personal into something universal, allowing people the world over... to see and feel themselves in her paintings." Living in San Francisco, Kahlo picked up a new visual language while straddling two cultures, employing indigenous people and alchemical symbols in her portraits. After seeing the "magical" home of botanist and horticulturist Luther Burbank, she added surreal touches to her work. She traveled throughout the U.S., visiting New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art, which influenced her use of color. Georgia O'Keefe, whom Kahlo met in 1931, helped her synthesize complicated feelings into visceral images. A devastating miscarriage in 1932 while in Detroit led her to insert third eyes in paintings, drawing on her raw physical and emotional pain--and garnering international recognition two years before she returned to Mexico City. Featuring meticulous research and elegant turns of phrase, Stahr's engrossing account provides scholarly though accessible analysis for both feminists and art lovers. (Mar.)"
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Additional Information
Subjects Kahlo, Frida.
Kahlo, Frida -- Psychology.
Expatriate artists -- United States -- Biography.
Artists -- Mexico -- Biography.
Publisher New York :2020
Edition First edition.
Language English
Description xv, 383 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 25 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 337-370) and index.
ISBN 9781250113382
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