Frida Kahlo: Face to Face by Judy Chicago is a visually stunning piece of art in and of itself. The front cover bound in red material, features a self-portrait retablo by Kahlo framed in a replication of the Oaxacan tin picture frames she sometimes used to complete her own works.
The book features some excellent representations of Frida Kahlo’s work from throughout her career, showcasing finished pieces as well as study sketches of some of her well known works. Other assorted drawings, letters and photographs from Kahlo’s life also enrich the book.
Chicago and her collaborator, art historian Frances Borzello, discuss their interpretations of Kahlo’s work, what relevant events in her life were occurring prior to the creation of the piece in discussion, some of her possible inspirations for creating the piece, and the symbolism behind many of the aspects in her body of work.
Through their interpretations the reader gains a better appreciation for Kahlo’s work. Knowledge of the context of the events and relationships in Kahlo’s life add to a greater understanding of the psychology behind the art and the artist.
For Kahlo, painting is a deeply personal form expression; her heritage, family life, politics, tragedies and triumphs all are deeply intertwined and incorporated into each piece of her work. Every brush stroke is a manifestation of her inner most desires, her fears, her love, her ideals…
Most of the dialogue between Chicago and Borzello is an invaluable resource to understanding the inner complexities of Frida Kahlo.
Chicago’s monstrous ego frequently wanders into some strange territory with her rampant self-promotion of her own work. Her frequent comparison of herself to Kahlo, her skewered logic, and hyper-inflated sense of self-importance detract from what is overall an excellent examination of one of the most important artists in the 20th century. It’s almost as if Chicago can’t stand the fact that she will never be an artist of the same caliber or relevance as her subject, and at times she comes off as desperate to convince the reader that she too is an important artist. The whole spectacle at times reminds one of the stereotype of the mothers that enter their daughters in child beauty pageants.
Chicago’s narcissism aside, Frida Kahlo: Face to Face is well worth the effort to obtain. Whether you are already familiar with Frida Kahlo’s history and work or just discovering her for the first time, the book will definitely have something for everyone to enjoy.
- Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera: Masterpieces from the Gelman Collection, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (independent.co.uk)
- Film Series Project : FRIDA (1ST one of the semester!!) (filmseriesproject.wordpress.com)
- Frida Kahlo’s Birthday (taralinda.wordpress.com)