When Frida Kalho died in 1954, her husband, artist Diego Rivera, donated their famous blue house (Casa Azul) and a large part of her artwork and belongings to the people of Mexico. The archives he kept for himself were supposed to be opened 15 years after his death, but it actually took fifty before Hilda Trujillo, the curator of the Frida Kahlo Museum, took the initiative to delve into the treasure and share it with the world.
Frida Kahlo: Her Photos, is a selection of 400 photographs from this immense personal collection (which contains more than 6000). They are a fascinating look into the rich and often controversial life of the painter.
The many childhood and family photographs add a deep intimate dimension to the persona. It is like discovering her all over again, or maybe simply confirming her - her staple unlikely beauty, her determined stare, are already present in the five year old Frida, posing for her father - from whom we discover she inherited her knack for self-portraiture.
But more than a family album, the book encompasses many aspects of Kahlo's life, such as her cultural heritage and identity, her artistic inspiration, or her political engagement. Because Kahlo played with her photographs by adding lipstick marks, drawings and notes, or even by cutting and mutilating them, they also briefly reveal flimsy tidbits on the complexity of her romantic life - with her husband Rivera, but also her many lovers, men and women alike.
While the accompanying essays by renowned international experts may sometimes be confusing and repetitive, they each contribute to painting a fuller picture of Kahlo with more information, details, and anecdotes, which all confirm our vision of an artist genuinely larger than life.
Check out GUP's issue #32 for more information and a beautiful selection of pictures from the book.