Frida Kahlo (Critical Lives Series)
(Reaktion Books, London and University of Chicago Press, 2013)
By Gannit Ankori
Frida Kahlo is a legendary figure in modern art: images of and by Kahlo, both photographs and self-portraits, are recognized world-wide. This book explores the life and art of Frida Kahlo, cutting through ‘Fridamania’ to look closely at the myths, contradictions and ambiguities that riddle her story. Based on detailed analyses of the artist’s paintings, drawings, diary, personal letters, photographs, medical records and first-hand interviews with her surviving relatives and friends, Gannit Ankori examines Kahlo’s life, illuminating the reasons for her posthumous iconic status, and assessing her critical impact on contemporary art and culture.
Throughout Kahlo’s life she was emphatically of her time, deeply immersed in the political, social, scientific and cultural issues that dominated the first half of the twentieth century. Yet as this book reveals Kahlo was also ahead of her time. Many of the themes with which she engaged through her paintings – related to gender, cross-dressing, identity politics, the body, religion – were considered marginal during her lifetime, but are central concerns in the twenty-first century, decades after her death. Kahlo’s art conjures up timeless issues that relate to the human condition and which transcend any biography.
For anyone interested in Kahlo, this is an original and succinct account of the life, work, and artistic legacy of a hugely popular artist.