If Balthus is my artistic father than I must claim Frida Kahlo as my mother. Frida was left out of all the art history lectures I attended in college in the 70s. I was not until the extensive biography by Hayden Herrera published in 1983 that took her out of the shadow of her famous plump gun toting husband Diago Rivera. It was then that picture books about her began to show up on the library book shelves around the country. Eventualy we had the movie they made with Selma Hayec in 2002. Frida became a pop icon giving women everywhere another costume option for halloween
I find it moving that Frida not only continued to live out a full artistic life in spite of her physical handicaps (She was in a terrible accident on a city bus as a young woman that left her with a broken spine. Her whole life the complications from this accident became an increasingly worse and more painful situation for her.) but her suffering and limitations actually became creative fodder for her artistic journey as a painter. Reflecting on Frida's courage to continue has brought me comfort through out my own life when I have had to struggle with my own perennial limitations and hardships.
I love that her work is so powerful on an intimate scale. In a world of big macho painters like Julian Schnable and Robert Rauschenberg who have became famous in part by the impressive scale of their work it is alwas refreshing to take another look at the life changing paintings of Frida Kahlo, most of which are small enough that they could be tucked into a suitcase if need be. There is also a strong narrative element to her works that borrows heavily from the folk art that she surrounded herself with. Coming out of the minimalist art of the 1970s --painting was definitely not figurative - let alone should it attempt to tell a story. Along comes the rediscovery of Frida Kahlo and the minimalist rhetoric gets kicked down the stairs to make room for a whole new generation of painters who were to reestablish the narrative figure painting path for artists such as myself.