There’s little doubt that Frida Kahlo is today’s best-known Mexican artist. A mere circumstantial coincidence made it such that both her life and her work acquired worldwide notoriety. Her undisputed talent was met by a life of contrasts, of color and chiaroscuro (like her paintings); it was a life full of love, but hardly exempt from conflict. It was a life of triumph and adversity. The “artist’s life” that attracts so much attention is, not entirely coincidentally, present with such intensity in people who commit themselves to creative activity. After all, the passion with which they live their lives, the skill, and the inspiration shown in their work are two sides of the same coin, two aspects of the same thirst to exhaust all of the possibilities of this existence.

Though the celebrity of any artist may sometimes contribute to fogging the way we receive an artist’s work, in the end, it’s the work which should prevail over other considerations we may make of an artist. It’s in the work that the artist expresses that which is most characteristic and that which aspires to transcendence. That’s why the work ends up taking precedence over even life, because life ends, facts are forgotten, an existence will dissolve in time, but the work remains.

frida1

Approaching Frida Kahlo’s work in this light can be deeply enriching. It’s now possible thanks to a project promoted by Google Arts & Culture and the Dolores Olmedo Museum and the Frida Khalo Museum in Mexico City, along with other institutions, all of whom joined forces to build one of the internet’s most complete sites on the artist.

Faces of Frida offers the work of Kahlo with a markedly didactic slant, as if it were a journey the guides to which are those experts who’ve devoted themselves to the study of her work. Beyond digital reproductions of the works, the site also offers a considerable volume of articles analyzing the Kahlo’s richness: her own artistic work, its relation to the broader Mexican culture, the political aspects of her life and work, and the place of love in the paintings, among multiple other themes. It’s one of the most ambitious projects to cover the Mexican painter and perhaps one to contribute the most to an understanding of her.

Beyond all the pedagogical objectives, an exploration of the site allows us to realize that the artist was an exceptional person in establishing a passionate link between life and action, converting the very impulse to live into a concrete act —a brushstroke, an artistic motif, a painting— and without hesitation or fear. Perhaps that’s the best lesson we can draw from a painter like Frida Kahlo.

Who else among us will make life itself into a work of art?

Also on Faena Aleph: Frida Kahlo: Creative Courage Beyond Pain

 

 

 

Images: 1) Toni Frissell – Library of Congress 2) Carl Van Vechten – Library of Congress

 

There’s little doubt that Frida Kahlo is today’s best-known Mexican artist. A mere circumstantial coincidence made it such that both her life and her work acquired worldwide notoriety. Her undisputed talent was met by a life of contrasts, of color and chiaroscuro (like her paintings); it was a life full of love, but hardly exempt from conflict. It was a life of triumph and adversity. The “artist’s life” that attracts so much attention is, not entirely coincidentally, present with such intensity in people who commit themselves to creative activity. After all, the passion with which they live their lives, the skill, and the inspiration shown in their work are two sides of the same coin, two aspects of the same thirst to exhaust all of the possibilities of this existence.

Though the celebrity of any artist may sometimes contribute to fogging the way we receive an artist’s work, in the end, it’s the work which should prevail over other considerations we may make of an artist. It’s in the work that the artist expresses that which is most characteristic and that which aspires to transcendence. That’s why the work ends up taking precedence over even life, because life ends, facts are forgotten, an existence will dissolve in time, but the work remains.

frida1

Approaching Frida Kahlo’s work in this light can be deeply enriching. It’s now possible thanks to a project promoted by Google Arts & Culture and the Dolores Olmedo Museum and the Frida Khalo Museum in Mexico City, along with other institutions, all of whom joined forces to build one of the internet’s most complete sites on the artist.

Faces of Frida offers the work of Kahlo with a markedly didactic slant, as if it were a journey the guides to which are those experts who’ve devoted themselves to the study of her work. Beyond digital reproductions of the works, the site also offers a considerable volume of articles analyzing the Kahlo’s richness: her own artistic work, its relation to the broader Mexican culture, the political aspects of her life and work, and the place of love in the paintings, among multiple other themes. It’s one of the most ambitious projects to cover the Mexican painter and perhaps one to contribute the most to an understanding of her.

Beyond all the pedagogical objectives, an exploration of the site allows us to realize that the artist was an exceptional person in establishing a passionate link between life and action, converting the very impulse to live into a concrete act —a brushstroke, an artistic motif, a painting— and without hesitation or fear. Perhaps that’s the best lesson we can draw from a painter like Frida Kahlo.

Who else among us will make life itself into a work of art?

Also on Faena Aleph: Frida Kahlo: Creative Courage Beyond Pain

 

 

 

Images: 1) Toni Frissell – Library of Congress 2) Carl Van Vechten – Library of Congress