Saturday, December 15, 2018

Frida Kahlo: An Illustrated Life by María Hesse Recounts the Life's Journey of This Feminist Icon -- A Must Read! (Review)

Disclosure: I was sent a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.

Now available in English, this internationally acclaimed graphic novel biography of iconic artist Frida Kahlo recounts her life’s journey in a first-person story illustrated with striking reimaginings of her famous paintings.

An Illustrated Life
María Hesse, translated by Achy Obejas
9781477317280 | 1477317287 
University of Texas Press
Biography & Autobiography / Artists, Architects, Photographers
$21.95 USD 
152 pages 

I have always had a love for art, and would spend hours at a time endlessly walking through art galleries or sitting and admiring particular art from artists like Monet and Renoir, before I had my girls.  While I can't draw more than a stick figure to save my life, I have always found something magical in the art that artists from all genres of art create.  It is like magic flows from their paintbrush with every brushstroke as they fill a blank canvas with a work of art that can be admired by all.

My husband, who is from El Salvador, introduced me to Frida Kahlo back when we were in college.  I remember we went to a local art museum and they were having an exhibition on Friday.  I found myself feeling different emotions looking at her art work, and reading about her back story. You could tell that she painted many of pieces with pain in her heart, and this flowed over onto the canvas.  But, there was also love and celebration of life in many of her pieces, too.  It wasn't until I started introducing art appreciation  into our homeschooling last year with my girls, that I found myself revisting Frida Kahlo.  My youngest, just like I did when I first saw Frida's work, fell in love with her paintings and wanted to learn more.  I found myself with her at the bookstore looking for books for her and I to read, to learn about Frida.  While I wasn't expecting books written with kids in mind to share the true story of Friday, I wanted to have a book that I could read and share parts of her life, with my daughter, so that she could see where Frida was coming from, when she painted.  I wanted my daughter to see that Frida was a courageous woman and an icon.  I never learned about Frida in high school and college art classes I took, and wonder why she is omitted from many of the art studies.  But, I am grateful to be able to share this amazing woman's art and personal story with my girls, without candy coating things or covering up her personal struggles and pain, as this is what made Frida the artist that she was and made her paint such amazing and moving pieces.

One day when my girls get older I will be sharing the Frida Kahlo: An Illustrated Life book written by Maria Hesse, with them.  I know my girls have developed a love of art like me, and books like these are much better than outdated textbooks that either skip over or briefly cover this amazing artist, that girls, both young and old, should know about, and feel proud that she paved the way as an artist genius of her time.  She truly is an icon and someone girls, especially of Latina and Mexican decent can look up to this feminist icon.

About this book:

"One of the most important artists of the twentieth century and an icon of courageous womanhood, Frida Kahlo lives on in the public imagination, where her popularity shows no signs of waning. She is renowned for both her paintings and her personal story, which were equally filled with pain and anguish, celebration and life. Thousands of words, including her own, have been written about Kahlo, but only one previous biography has recorded her fascinating, difficult life. Frida Kahlo by María Hesse offers a highly unique way of getting to know the artist by presenting her life in graphic novel form, with striking illustrations that reimagine many of Kahlo’s famous paintings.

Originally published in Spanish in 2016, Frida Kahlo has already found an enthusiastic audience in the Spanish-speaking world, with some 20,000 copies sold in just a few months. 
This translation introduces English-language readers to Kahlo’s life, from her childhood and the traumatic accident that would change her life and her artwork, to her complicated love for Diego Rivera and the fierce determination that drove her to become a major artist in her own right. María Hesse tells the story in a first-person narrative, which captures both the depths of Frida’s suffering and her passion for art and life."

Disclosure: I was sent a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.

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