Tangible Good

Frida Kahlo (July 6, 1907-July 13, 1954) is known as a surrealist, a primitivist, a feminist, a communist, a mexicanist.  The cult of Frida is so powerful it often eclipses appreciation of her real talents (and limitations) as an artist who, at the peak of her powers in the 1940s, earned her place as one of the great figures of twentieth century modernism.

The first time I saw a Frida self portrait close enough to touch in a private home I burst into tears.  It was so exquisite and so raw and totally disarming.  But the Frida painting that changed my life is not emblematic at all and frankly not especially exciting. Retrato de Cristina, mi hermana is an early picture dating to 1928, when Kahlo was just beginning to master her technique and before she had settled on herself as the all-consuming subject of her portraiture.  While Frida’s best and best-known works are dramatic…

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