In this three-part series, artist Alinka Echeverria explores how, across the millennia, three major forces have propelled change and made their mark on Mexico.
Status: In Development
Runtime: 60 minutes
The Art That Made Mexico - Frida Kahlo - Netflix
Frida Kahlo de Rivera (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈfɾiða ˈkalo]; born Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón; July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954) was a Mexican artist who painted many portraits, self-portraits, and works inspired by the nature and artifacts of Mexico. Inspired by the country's popular culture, she employed a naïve folk art style to explore questions of identity, postcolonialism, gender, class, and race in Mexican society. Her paintings often had strong autobiographical elements and mixed realism with fantasy. In addition to belonging to the post-revolutionary Mexicayotl movement, which sought to define a Mexican identity, Kahlo has been described as a surrealist or magical realist. Born to a German father and a mestiza mother, Kahlo spent most of her childhood and adult life at her family home in Coyoacán, La Casa Azul, now known and publicly accessible as the Frida Kahlo Museum. She was disabled by polio as a child. Until a traffic accident at age eighteen caused lifelong pain and medical problems, she had been a promising student headed for medical school. During her recovery, she returned to her childhood hobby of art with the idea of becoming an artist. Kahlo's interests in politics and art led to the next stage of her life. In 1927, she joined the Mexican Communist Party, through which she met celebrated muralist Diego Rivera whom she married in 1928. The relationship was volatile and included a year-long divorce; both had extramarital affairs. Kahlo spent the late 1920s and early 1930s traveling in Mexico and the United States with Rivera. During this time, she developed her own style as an artist, drew her main inspiration from Mexican folk culture, and painted mostly small self-portraits which mixed elements from pre-Columbian and Catholic mythology. Her paintings raised the interest of Surrealist artist André Breton, who arranged for Kahlo's first solo exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York in 1938. The exhibition was a success and was followed by another in Paris in 1939. While the French exhibition was less successful, the Louvre purchased a painting from Kahlo, The Frame, making her the first Mexican artist to be featured in their collection. Throughout the 1940s, Kahlo participated in exhibitions in Mexico and the United States. She taught at the Escuela Nacional de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado “La Esmeralda” and became a founding member of the Seminario de Cultura Mexicana. Kahlo's always fragile health began to decline in the same decade. She had her first solo exhibition in Mexico in 1953, shortly before her death in 1954 at the age of 47. Kahlo was mainly known as Rivera's wife until the late 1970s, when her work was rediscovered by art historians and political activists. By the early 1990s, she had become not only a recognized figure in art history, but also regarded as an icon for Chicanos, the Feminism movement, and the LGBTQ movement. Kahlo's work has been celebrated internationally as emblematic of Mexican national and Indigenous traditions, and by feminists for what is seen as its uncompromising depiction of the female experience and form.
The Art That Made Mexico - Commemorations and characterizations - Netflix
Kahlo's legacy has been commemorated in several ways. La Casa Azul, her home in Coyoacán, was opened as a museum in 1958, and has become one of the most popular museums in Mexico City, with approximately 25,000 visitors monthly. The city also dedicated a park, Parque Frida Kahlo, to her in Coyoacán in 1985. The park features a bronze statue of Kahlo. In the United States, she became the first Hispanic woman to be honored with a U.S. postage stamp in 2001, and was inducted into the Legacy Walk, an outdoor public display in Chicago that celebrates the LGBT history and people, in 2012. Kahlo received several commemorations on the centenary of her birth in 2007, and some on the centenary of the birthyear she attested to, 2010. These included the Bank of Mexico releasing a new MXN$ 500-peso note, featuring Kahlo's painting titled Love's Embrace of the Universe, Earth, (Mexico), I, Diego, and Mr. Xólotl (1949) on the reverse of the note and Diego Rivera on the front, It is the largest retrospective of her works at Mexico City's Palacio des Bellas Artes, which broke its previous attendance record, In addition to other tributes, Kahlo's life and art have inspired artists in various fields. In 1984, Paul Leduc released a biopic, titled Frida, naturaleza viva starring Ofelia Medina as Kahlo. She is the protagonist of three fictional novels, Barbara Mujica's Frida (2001), Slavenka Drakulic's Frida's Bed (2008), and Barbara Kingsolver's The Lacuna (2009). In 1994, American jazz flautist and composer James Newton released an album inspired by Kahlo, titled Suite for Frida Kahlo. In 2017, author Monica Brown and illustrator John Parra published a children's book on Khalo, Frida Kahlo and her Animalitos, which focuses primarily on the animals and pets in Khalo's life and art. Kahlo has also been the subject of several stage performances. She was the inspiration for a one-act ballet by Tamara Rojo and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa for the English National Ballet in 2016, and for two operas, Robert Xavier Rodriguez's Frida, which premiered at the American Music Theater Festival in Philadelphia in 1991, and Kalevi Aho's Frida y Diego, which had its premiere at the Helsinki Music Centre in Helsinki, Finland in 2014. She was also the main character in several plays, including Dolores C. Sendler's Goodbye, My Friduchita (1999), Robert Lepage and Sophie Faucher's La Casa Azul (2002), Humberto Robles' Frida Kahlo: Viva la vida! (2009), and Rita Ortez Provost's Tree of Hope (2014). In 2018, Mattel unveiled seventeen new Barbie dolls in celebration of International Women's Day, including one of Kahlo. Critics objected to the doll's slim waist and noticeably missing unibrow.
The Art That Made Mexico - References - Netflix