cover image Frida in America: The Creative Awakening of a Great Artist

Frida in America: The Creative Awakening of a Great Artist

Celia Stahr. St. Martin’s, $29.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-250-11338-2

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.)