James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Frida Kahlo: Song of Herself

For Frida Kahlo afficionados Salomon Grimberg's Frida Kahlo: Song of Herself is a condensed version of the artist's life in both her own words and the words of her friend, Olga Campos. Salomon Grimberg, the author, is a Kahlo expert and an art historian. Throughout the book he intersperses fragments of Kahlo's ideology with lesser known drawings, paintings and photographs making this book a must see for those who think they are familiar with Kahlo's work. They include this one to the right called "The Mask" from 1945. The accompanying text includes insights, interviews, articles along with a chronological medical history of a woman who struggled with illness and chronic pain for the duration of her short life.

It is fascinating to contrast the views of Grimberg and Campos with those of Kahlo herself. On the issue of Frida's bisexuality Grimberg says, "Kahlo gradually took lovers of both genders in order to avoid feelings of emptiness." Campos rationalizes, "I do not think she was a true homosexual. If she had sex with other women, it would not have been for love or attraction but to satisfy her frustrated eroticism and vanity." But Kahlo states concisely,"Homosexuality is very correct, very good."

Kahlo, a politically active Communist, is also is quoted as saying, "I would fight in a war but imperialistic war is idiotic." Elaborating she states that"the class struggle, even armed, is very important." Yet her overall world view is considerably softer. She believes, "love is the basis of all life," confides that," I have enjoyed being contradictory." Then finally concedes, "I do not believe in anyone's honesty, not even mine."

For more on Frida check out this article from Woman's Art Journal: "Fashioning National Identity: Frida Kahlo in 'Gringolandia'."

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