Frida & Diego: Art, Love, Life

176p. bibliog. chron. further reading. index. notes. photos. reprods. websites. Clarion. Aug. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780547821849. LC 2013021340.
RedReviewStarGr 7 Up—The lives of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo were marked by exceptional artistic talent, political fervor, and an all-consuming passion for each other that even outlasted their two marriages. Private and professional heartbreak and an idiosyncratic outlook on life and the world influenced the pair's intensely personal paintings. Readers will learn much about the artists in this dual biography, including information on their numerous love affairs. Still, every relationship clarified for the couple that they couldn't really exist or produce art without the other. Superb examples of Rivera's and Kahlo's paintings are reproduced in glorious full color, replete with rich Mexican-folkloric and earth tones, and the work is filled with excellently reproduced contemporary photos that place events in historical and personal context. Striking use of color elsewhere, as on chapter-opening and back-matter pages, also figure into the handsome design. A well-rounded treatment of two giants of 20th-century art, this volume tracks the separate and combined trajectories of its subjects' lives and careers and allows for comparisons and contrasts. It is highly recommended for public and school libraries and will be useful for units on modern and Latino art and for studies of women artists.—Carol Goldman, Queens Library, NY
In 1922 when famous artist Diego Rivera was hired to paint a mural in Mexico City's National Preparatory School, he met a mischievous high-school girl named Frida Kahlo. They married years later, but their relationship was not easy. Too few reproductions of Rivera's and Kahlo's art are included in the main photo-essay text; a gallery of their work is appended. Timeline. Bib., ind.
This fascinating biography of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo explores their long-time relationship as well as their artistic careers. Catherine Reef includes well-crafted explanations of how these Mexican artists were involved with many historical events of the first half of the twentieth century. Rivera studied cubism in Europe during World War I, for example, and a 1930s photograph shows Kahlo with leading communist figure, Leon Trotsky, to whom she and Diego provided refuge after he was exiled from Stalinist Russia. Memorable quotes and vivid details bring the narrative to life. Before Kahlo and Rivera’s first wedding, for instance, Kahlo’s parents—referring to Rivera’s questionable past and comparatively large size and old age—said that it would be like “a marriage between an elephant and a dove.” Captioned photographs and reproductions of artwork on nearly every spread add context and visual appeal, showing the colorful company the couple kept (including Pablo Picasso), and their evolving art styles.

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