“A graphic gallop” – Frida Kahlo Her Life, Her Work, Her Home by Francisco De La Mora

IMG_2023-3-4-191853What a life Frida Kahlo lived! Born in Coyoacan in Mexico, four years before the revolution that led to independence (although she did doctor her birth date in later years to suggest she and the revolution were birthed as one), almost from the first she zipped between tragedy and triumph (ill with polio, on one hand, one of the first women to enter the national preparatory school on the other; terribly hurt in a bus accident, an accident that was to cause her pain throughout the rest of her life, here, blazing a path as an incredibly distinctive artist there).

As readers of Self Made Hero’s recent Diego Rivera (also written by De La Mora) will know, she married the artist who was at the time one of the most famous men on the planet and found herself whipped up into his globe-trotting celebrity, living in New York and Detroit while he went about his mural-painting business, gradually finding her own voice and her own way. Along the way she enjoyed thrilling relationships with the likes of Georgia O’Keefe (herself recently immortalised by Self Made Hero) and Tina Modotti, even as she put up with Rivera’s philandering ways.

At 70 or so pages, Francisco De La Mora’s graphic gallop through Kahlo’s life misses out a lot. This feels like the kind of book you might pick up in the gallery gift shop after enjoying a well-curated exhibition. It certainly serves as a good introduction to Kahlo’s life, a whetting of the appetite to hopefully entice you to delve deeper (if you want to delve deeper, the BBC recently ran a three-part documentary entitled Becoming Frida Kahlo which will colour in a few of the gaps left here).

Any Cop?: Not quite as comprehensive as either the Rivera or O’Keefe books mentioned above, De La Mora’s Frida Kahlo is still a lively and captivating introduction to the great woman who said, “so long as I can paint I am happy to be alive.”


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