I agree as some reviewers have noted that this book is a bit light on Frida's feminist and revolutionary traits, buys into gender stereotytpes somewhaI agree as some reviewers have noted that this book is a bit light on Frida's feminist and revolutionary traits, buys into gender stereotytpes somewhat and so misses the complexity of her character and that some of the art analysis given seems to contradict what Frida herself has written on paintings or just seem very unlikely and a bit of a stretch.
One reviewer wrote: 'Herrera makes her out to be a Diego obsessed, pain obsessed sack of shit, and I'm not buying it.'
There is a lot of careful and meticulous research in this book and the author has done a amazing job putting so much information together in such a readable format.
But several times in the book the author concludes things about Frida's motivations and attitudes to her illnesses struck me as perhaps quite unfair and unlikely. The conclusions didn't seem to match the evidence.
Frida's letters to her doctor friend, several of which are included in the book, made it very clear that she was anxious to have more surgery only if it'd really help her and if he thought it was a good idea. To me she was very clearly motivated only by a desire to have the best health when she decided on a surgery or decided against it. She really wanted this doctor's unbiased opinion either way. She was certainly not biased towards surgery and didn't take it lightly, as she knew what a cost it'd have during recovery.
Yet Harrera writes that Frida's surgeries were often very 'conveniently' timed with periods where Diego's attention may have been straying from Frida. She also comments in a quite judgemental way that many of her surgeries were 'unnecessary.'
Clearly Frida had a strong link with Diego, maybe even an obsession, but I think it is going too far to say she had unnecessary surgeries so as to elicit his attention. She was so much more of a complex and intelligent person than that and he was not the only motivation for her actions. It is easy to write now that some of those surgeries were unnecessary (and they were)...but then, many treatments those of us that are ill try are unnecessary. The point is that you don't know that until afterwards!
Having something to hang your quiet backgound-rumble-of-hope on - a new surgery, or diet etc. - is a huge part of what keeps you going when you are ill. What keeps you from giving up and lets you get through your difficult days with laughs and a few smiles. If she were not so concerned with improving her health she would not have put herself through so much and risked so much to try and improve it. This book talks of Frida's 'desperate hope' and I think that is just what she had.
I'm sure the heavy drinking didn't help - nobody's perfect - but I think it is unfair to say that Frida would have made herself bedbound for months after a risky surgery because it might improve her love-life in the short term.
It is so easy to write 'she was bedbound for 4 months' after a surgery. But to actually experience being bedbound, relying on others for every small thing and being unable to paint - to do the one thing you love so very much - for 4 months is a thing of immense magnitude. The difference between being bedbound for a month or 2 or 4 is very hard to put into words.
Each day and week and month of being bedbound contains so much suffering and being utterly miserable. Every week or even hour counts. There are big sufferings and small ones and a loss of dignity and the soul-destroying feeling of being dependant on others for everything. There is so much more suffering than you can imagine, if you haven't done it. Try it for a month... or a week, and see how likely you'd be to do it to yourself again if you could at all avoid it. For any reason not connected to your health.
Frida's illness made her oppressed by tedium, very lonely and sometimes possibly suicidal. Frida wrote after one surgery that she was going through 'a desperation that no words can describe' and said that she was 'happy to be alive so long as I can paint.'
Personally I don't buy that someone as remarkable, independent and painting-obsessed as Frida would give herself even one extra month of being bedbound (and unable to paint or even to SIT) and an unpleasant and unnecessary surgery, on purpose, let alone just to get attention from someone else in such a weak and manipulative way.
Playing up certain aspects of illness, or exaggerating them at times and demanding more care and attention from others after a surgery - maybe, but not that.
Just my opinion.
What I know for sure is that Frida was a remarkable and complicated individual and a brilliant artist. I enjoyed seeing some of the paintings reproduced in this book that I hadn't seen before and now want to see as many of them as I can, as well as learn more about Frida.
This was an interesting read overall. I'm glad too I got a copy with a Frida painting featured on the cover and not the movie-tie-in image of an actor - hate when publishers do that!
I'm looking forward to reading 'Devouring Frida' now, which comes highly recommended....more
This book is gorgeous. I love just about everything in it, all the work is of such a high quality. My favourites hands down are the beautiful laptop cThis book is gorgeous. I love just about everything in it, all the work is of such a high quality. My favourites hands down are the beautiful laptop computers though...I want one so so much. True genius!
I'm completely and utterly biased about this book, because it is my dad's book and I also did the book design. (I think I may even have taken one of tI'm completely and utterly biased about this book, because it is my dad's book and I also did the book design. (I think I may even have taken one of the photos that has a bandicoot eating watermelon in it.) But even so I just love the book and I see something new and beautiful in it every time I look through it. It is just gorgeous....more