Hailed by readers and critics across the country, this engrossing biography of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo reveals a woman of extreme magnetism and originality, an artist whose sensual vibrancy came straight from her own experiences: her childhood near Mexico City during the Mexican... read more
“Although Frida wanted to live off her paintings, she did not compromise her art in any way in order to make it salable. Only friends would purchase such painful and bloody works as the Self-Portrait sold to Muray. And on those rare occasions when a painting was commissioned, she did not necessarily produce what the patron expected, but rather turned the commission into another opportunity to transmit her private despair. Even when the commission was a portrait of someone other than herself, Frida could not help but make it a personal statement—one intimately connected with events in her own life.”Author
“This is certainly the case with on of the paintings Frida completed during her separation from Diego, Suicide of Dorothy Hale, a work so gory it recalls the horror of A Few Small Nips. The suicide is shown in three successive stages. First there is the tiny upright figure close to the high window of the Hampshire House, from which Dorothy Hale jumped on October 21, 1938. Next we see a much larger upside-down falling figure, eyes wide open and looking at us. Cottony clouds partially obscure her, making her plunge through space all the more palpable. Finally there is a large figure lying stiff as a china doll on the ground in a pool of blood. Blood trickles out of her ear, mouth, and nose, curiously accentuating the beauty of her face. Her eyes are still open, and they look at us with all the plaintive calm of a wounded animal.”Author
“Clare Boothe Luce, who commissioned the portrait at the opening of Frida’s New York exhibition, says that Frida had known Dorothy in Mexico and New York. She was part of a small coterie of friends connected with Vanity Fair (of which Mrs. Luce was managing editor), a group that included Miguel and Rosa Covarrubias, Muray, and Noguchi.“She was a very beautiful girl,” Noguchi recalls. “All of my girls are beautiful. I went to London with her in 1933. Bucky <Buckmister Fuller> and I were there the night before she did it. I remember very well, she said, ‘Well, that’s the end of the vodka. There isn’t any more.’ Just like that, you know. I wouldn’t have through of it much, except afterward I realized that that’s what she was talking about. Dorothy was very pretty, and she traveled in this false world. She didn’t want to be second to anybody, and she must have through she was slipping.””Author
“In her own words, Mrs. Luce tells the story of the portrait: “Dorothy Donovan Hale was one of the most beautiful women I have ever known. Not even the young Elizabeth Taylor, whom she resembled, was more beautiful. A former Ziegfeld showgirl, she was the wife of Gardiner Hale, a fashionable New York portrait painter. The young Hales had many friends, not only in society, where Hale garnered his portrait commissions, but among the artists of the period, including Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.”Author
“Frida Kahlo came up to me through the crowd and at once began talking about Dorothy’s suicide. I didn’t want to talk about it, as my conscience was still bothering me because I had been accusing Dorothy falsely—in my thoughts—of taking advantage of me. Kahlo wasted no time suggesting that she do a recuerdo of Dorothy. I did not speak enough Spanish to understand what the word recuerdo meant. I thought it meant a portrait done from memory. I thought Kahlo would paint a portrait of Dorothy in the style of her own Self-Portrait, which I bout in Mexico and still own.“Suddenly it came to me that a portrait of Dorothy by a famous painter friend might be something her poor mother might like to have. I said so, and Kahlo thought so too. I asked the price, Kahlo told me, and I said, ‘Go ahead. Send the portrait to me when it is finished. I will then send it on to Dorothy’s mother.’”Author
““I will always remember the shock I had when I pulled the painting out of the crate. I felt really physically sick. What was I going to do with this gruesome painting of the smashed corpse of my friend, and her blood dripping down all over the frame? I could not return it—across the top of the painting there was an angel waving an unfurled banner which proclaimed in Spanish that this was ‘The Suicide of Dorothy Hale, painted at the request of Clare Boothe Luce, for the mother of Dorothy.’ I would not have requested such a gory picture of my worst enemy, much less of my unfortunate friend.”Author
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