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Carole Maso - Beauty Is Convulsive
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Seller Inventory GI2N The Incantation of Frida K. Seller Rating:. Available From More Booksellers. About the Book. We're sorry; this specific copy is no longer available. Then I lost my husband, though he was never quite mine.
Like Sylvia Plath, Frida Kahlo has become a feminist icon, in part because of the sexual politics of her marriage to an older, established artist in her own field. Some of Braverman's most vivid passages are Kahlo's deathbed view of her husband: "The big man, enormous in his flesh, two hundred and sixty pounds of him, meat and wine and chocolates, and other women's mouths with their burgundy and vermilion lipsticks, with their jasmine and musk, their martinis and mink trim. Diego, scuttling away from a tiny woman who is inexorably turning into water. The Incantation of Frida K.
Diego was the surrealist, with his slow sun-bloated women, bovine with their corn stalks, their ridiculous lilies, and their enormous static harvests. Diego did not include radium in his palette. He did not acknowledge poisons in the rivers, flowing into vines, in breasts that give tainted milk.
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Frida recalls the aftermath of the bus accident: "Doctors deposited me outside, on the boulevard, on cobblestones, with those too mutilated to survive. I had fractures of my spine, of my third and fourth lumbar vertebrae. I had pelvic fractures and a fracture of my right foot. My right leg was broken in sixteen separate places. That is what opened for me when my body was crushed. The ocean blew in. I became a harbor.
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In a way that no biography could ever be, The Incantation of Frida K. To read this book is not only to understand what made the artist tick, it is also to feel the excruciating ticking of a life fueled by pain. Braverman's powerful empathy with Kahlo and commitment to Kahlo's voice are both the achievement and the undoing of the novel.
Even by artistic standards, Kahlo was self-obsessed -- of the roughly paintings she completed, about a third are self-portraits. She was, as a caption for one of those portraits puts it in a recent show at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, "her own favorite subject. And though the details of her life conjure up a compelling story, Frida's view of herself, as The Diary of Frida Kahlo makes abundantly clear, was imagistic and nonlinear.
Kahlo's telling of her own life takes most of the narrative out of it; Braverman's novel transforms a great story into a surrealistic prose poem spoken in the voice of a narcissist. Never mind that the speaker is an artistic genius whose life was one of the most fascinating of the 20th century; never mind that she managed to transform incredible pain into striking paintings; never mind that she's on her deathbed and deserves to be heard; and never mind that the language she uses is intense, fresh and often pretty funny: "I drink to drown my sorrows.
But the damn things have learned to swim. You would think that there was not much left to explore about Frida Kahlo , the Mexican painter who is one of the starriest idols in the feminist pantheon. But a determined art historian can always dig up more. That fact was not unknown, but it has been somewhat buried in the flood of material already unearthed about Kahlo's life.
Now, a guest curator, Gannit Ankori of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, has organized a show based partly on her doctoral dissertation, which dwells on the issue of Kahlo's "hybrid and multicultural identity. What we learn is that Kahlo's beloved father, Guillermo Wilhelm Kahlo , was the son of a Hungarian Jewish couple who emigrated to Germany. Arriving in Mexico at the age of 18, he became a professional photographer whose main subject was Mexico's colonial architecture. Her early religious roots didn't concern Frida much as an adult, she became an ardent Communist , but in , probably affected by the growing menace of Hitler's anti-Semitism, she painted "My Grandparents, My Parents and I," a family portrait that included her Jewish ancestors.
The painting, owned by the Museum of Modern Art, is the centerpiece of the show. It is accompanied by a smattering of related material, in the form of photographs, books and reproductions of other paintings. She died there, and it is now the Frida Kahlo Museum. In her right hand she holds a ribbon that flows upward on either side of the picture to support floating portraits of each set of grandparents; the Mexican couple on the left, the Hungarian-Jewish pair on the right.
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From her Kahlo grandmother, Frida apparently inherited those awesome black eyebrows that almost met in the middle of her forehead. Directly behind Frida are portraits of her mother and father, taken from their wedding pictures. Her mother wears a long-sleeved white gown, ruffled at the neck; superimposed on it below her waist lies Frida as a fetus, umbilical cord snaking up to where her mother's navel would be.
Her mother's arm rests on the shoulders of her father, a mustached personage shown as a portrait bust duded up in a wedding suit. Just below the edge of her mother's dress is an ovum about to be inseminated. Other material in the show includes reproductions of paintings, among them Henri Rousseau's "Present and the Past" , a depiction of the painter and his wife that apparently inspired Frida's rendering of her own family. Several books are in evidence from Frida's library; one is a study of the torture of Jews by the 16th-century Inquisition in Mexico; another is an illustrated tome on the practice of obstetrics.
A Nazi chart explaining who was considered Jewish, included in the exhibition, would seem to be another documentary source for Kahlo's family painting, reflecting her recognition of her "impure" roots. And a painting, "Without Hope" , by Kahlo herself, depicts her in a four-poster bed, tears flowing, with various elements fantasizing her own persecution by the Inquisition.
A strong part of the show is a vivid group of photographs of Kahlo at various stages of her life, most taken by her father. At 4 she is a chubby little girl in a white dress, holding a bouquet of roses; at 18, handsome and serious, she gazes at the viewer with a self-confidence unusual for her age. At 25, several years after her marriage to the philandering painter Diego Rivera, she is seen in native costume, presenting herself as an exotic whose roots were in the indigenous culture.
So, is Kahlo's Jewish identity — not otherwise very evident, to be sure — a compelling basis for a show? Not to my thinking. But the show, like any other Kahlo exhibition, does raise the issue of just how good a painter she was. Or how much of the adulation given her stems from her personification of the suffering female, bravely bearing up under the trauma of severe physical affliction — childhood polio and permanent injuries from a youthful accident — her difficult marriage and her troubles in finding acceptance as a woman and an artist.
Still, there is no denying that the personal thrust of her paintings gives them power. She obsessively chronicled her life, hard times, physical distress and dreams, in a lively, primitive style that spares nothing in the way of morbid clinical detail. And if her work often gives the impression that she was a better medical illustrator a profession she aspired to early in life than a truly accomplished artist, who's to complain? Through her creepy paintings, you feel her pain. Back in the days when I thought I was the only one here who had ever heard of her, I called her Miss Eyebrows of More than anything else, the eyebrows of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo are the best-remembered detail of her many astonishing self-portraits.
Kahlo, wife of painter Diego Rivera and lover of several notable men, including Leon Trotsky, has recently become a household name, partly because of a colorful movie about her amazingly colorful life and partly because of a series of exhibitions about her and her work, the latest at the Jewish Museum of New York. There is even a Frida cult site on the Web. It is the last word in Kahlo studies, and contains texts for each of the many color plates. She painted and loved in a world of pain, the result of a road accident in that crushed her pelvis and lower spine.
Kahlo's multi-cultural identity was there from the outset.
tamackerwcelit.cf Her father, Wilhelm Guillermo Kahlo, was a German-Jewish photographer and sometime painter, scion of a family of Hungarian Jews who had settled in Baden-Baden; he encouraged every aspect of her intellectual development. Maso's fiction is inclined toward the heights of passion and despair, so Kahlo's life, marked as it was by physical anguish and by her sensual and often pain-riddled self-portraits, makes for fitting material.
Repetition, songlike cadences, and the occasional first-person narrator will make this book more appealing to readers interested in how prose, poetry, and biography intersect than to those wanting straightforward narration. Maso's prose has generated wide respect, making this an important purchase for libraries with literary fiction collections.
Carolyn Kuebler, Library Journal AVA, Maso, a highly original writer, distills her contemplation of Kahlo's indelible paintings and vital diaries and letters into a supple, discerning, and haunting prose poem, a biographical meditation that elegantly charts Kahlo's epic resiliency, artistic daring, unrelenting suffering, soul-saving "sense of the ridiculous," and glorious defiance.
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Maso's spare yet lyric tribute, a genuine communion, is a welcome antidote to the mawkishness and sensationalism that is starting to blur our appreciation for Kahlo's pioneering art and incandescent spirit. Donna Seaman, Booklist. Through this series of devotional prose poems, Maso imagines a scintillating dialogue between two artists--Kahlo and herself--engaged in the process of Arranging and rearranging.