Walking through the Blue House, you get a great sense of the life of Frida and then later Diego. Frida's father built the Blue House, which is mainly where she grew up, and then in her later years, it is where Diego and Frida returned to live. Things that struck me about the house and how it must have been for Frida to have lived there when her health was failing after her divorce from Diego, included how physically small she must have been. I imagined this larger than life character, flamboyant and Amazonian - or perhaps a little smaller. In fact, as the corsets (one of about 150 I believe) show, plus the wheelchair she sat on at her easel, she was of a slim, small to medium frame. Diego towered over her, and I believe she would have liked that - could it be that she thrived on intellectual and sexual dominance during her younger years? From reading her autobiography Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo [Paperback] by H. Herrera, she enjoyed the impact she had on men (and women) often through her appearance and her ability to control conversations through body, wit and inuendo,
The biography tells of a challenging relationship between the couple, and it was their divorce that lead her to do many of her best works. Consider this, here is a woman, in pain, on her back in a brace for almost a year at a time, drinking to ease the pain and still producing some of the most iconic images of any female painter of the era in Mexico (and I'd even go as far as to say abroad). Her Surrealist connections never involve other female painters, except for mention of Georgia O'Keefe, who Frida respected to a degree. From a few of the comments from Herrera's book (made by Frida) I'd say she made no attempt to hide her sexual orientation, which may have been a little confronting for female artists, such as O'Keefe.
The problem I do have with Hererra's paperback is the front cover - it has the film version actress Selma Hayek posing. Assuming that Hererra's book as used as the basis for the film, I'd say they went as far as to leave out major facts about Frida, her passions and intelligence, and her wars, instead portraying some watered down version of an artist, romanticising her struggles and ignoring the best parts of who she really was. Herrera's book says much more, in about 900 pages.
Below are two of her sketches from her journal. As Diego was a major source of inspiration, much of his Aztec influences and European interests filtered into Frida's work. She opted for a more naive style of painting, but many of her sketches showed stone, arteries, thought and construction, and raw pain....
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Tanya is a traditional and digital artist, living in Brisbane and inspired by all that is 'Art'.