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Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  54,229 ratings  ·  577 reviews
Hailed by readers and critics across the country, this engrossing biography of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo reveals a woman of extreme magnetism and originality, an artist whose sensual vibrancy came straight from her own experiences: her childhood near Mexico City during the Mexican Revolution; a devastating accident at age eighteen that left her crippled and unable to bea ...more
Paperback, 528 pages
Published October 1st 2002 by Harper Perennial (first published 1983)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  54,229 ratings  ·  577 reviews


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Thomas
Sep 06, 2007 added it
Shelves: biography
Have not read this book- I have no reason not think it is good. Just wanted to comment on the cover.
I always hate buying an edition of a book with movie art on the front. Nothing ruins a copy of a Lord of the Rings book like stills from the films on the cover. Carrying that around just makes you look like such a joiner. I know-- it is big money marketing, and there is no stopping it.
But I gotta say, with an artist like Frida Kahlo, who painted so many incredible self protraits, it is just so lam
...more
Mary
Oct 24, 2007 rated it it was ok
This is not an accurate portrayal of Frida's life. She was more of a revolutionary than this book makes her out to be. She was also a gender-bending feminist, and a brilliant painter. Herrera makes her out to be a Diego obsessed, pain obsessed sack of potatoes, and i'm not buying it. Herrera also infers several things to be true from Frida's paintings. She frequently ignores literal translations from paintings including text painted in that reveals the meaning completely on it's own.

I am very s
...more
Caroline
Aug 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art, 5-star-books
I am a little in love with Frida Kahlo, or perhaps I should say intensely so. Surely no-one can read this superb biography without being spun head over heels. Frida Kahlo was truly extraordinary.

frida 444

Vast beauty, intelligence, commitments, loyalties...... and most of all - vast creativity and artistic talent. On top of this, the book also contains a formidable and passionate love story, and an inspiring story about her battles against terrible physical injuries .

Frida was a gargantuan and lion-
...more
Zanna
Jul 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 500gbw
This is a long book of a rather short life: Frida Kahlo was injured in a traffic incident when she was eighteen and spent the rest of her life in pain and 'invalidism'. Regardless of this, her persona was so vibrant and vital that her magnetism outshone her vivid, charismatic work, and if she had lived thirty more years the book would doubtless be three hundred pages longer.

But it would have been completely different. Frida would probably not have begun to paint if she had not been immobilised f
...more
Paul
Oct 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, biography
In Depth, thorough and intriguing. However, I did not always agree with the author's interpretive nature of assuming to understand what Frida was feeling or thinking, and forcing these interpretations by consistent repetition. Frida still had an amazing and extremely interesting life. ...more
Angie
Sep 20, 2007 rated it did not like it
Frida Kahlo was such a complex indiviual, unfortunately Hayden Herrera simplifies this multifaceted artists life and passions. Like many Kahlo scholars in the 1970's she bases many of her ideas on Kahlo's work on gender stereotypes and assumptions. Read "Devouring Frida" if you are interested in a REAL analysis of the artist's life. ...more
Susan
Jan 04, 2013 rated it liked it
My rating reflects the author's efforts and not the interest of the subject. Rated on Kalo, I would have awarded a rating of five, because Frida Kalo is an intriguing and compelling subject, whose life and art are inseparable and awe-inspiring.

I became interested in Kalo when I attended the San Francisco La Raza Homage to Frida Kalo (1978); her work grabbed my gut. Prints of her paintings The Little Deer and her self portraits with monkeys and with Diego Rivera looking out from her third eye hu
...more
Bloodorange
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm probably the last person under the sun not to have seen Julie Taymor's Frida, based on this biography (which is changing as I write these words). I find rating biographies difficult - do I rate a book, or a life? - but I think I can safely give it 3.5-4 stars, with the disclaimer that my ratings are more lenient for biographies than for fiction.

The description of the birth of creativity, and subsequent relations between Frida and Diego, and other people in her life, were interesting, thorou
...more
Michelle Curie
Frida Kahlo. To most people, she is the Mexican painter with the intense stare and dominant brows, known for her self-portraits. At the same time she has become an icon. I've seen people drinking out of Frida-cups, wearing Frida-socks and getting Frida-tattoos. This biography really made me understand what it was that made this woman so magnetising.



A woman in love with life

Frida never had it easy. She grew up during the Mexican Revolution, which certainly wasn't the easiest time to be a Mexican
...more
TBV (on semi-hiatus)
“The painter, poet, and prominent critic José Moreno Villa struck in Novedades the note that would resound over the years: “ It is impossible,” he wrote, “to separate the life and work of this singular person. Her paintings are her biography.””


Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón (1907-1954) was a medical student when, at the age of eighteen, she was critically injured in a bus accident. “Before that we had taken another bus, but since I had lost a little parasol, we got off to look for i
...more
Addicted to Books
5 Mesmerizing Well researched- the best biography I have ever read stars!

This is the best biography I believe ever to be written or this is the best biography I have ever read.

I have never cared much about Frida Kahlo except the movie which I had been planning to watch for the past 5 years but never did. But now I really want to watch the movie. I saw this book laying next to Marlon by Peter Manso in the library and I have been reading it during the lunch and tea breaks and I finally finished i
...more
Indrė
Aug 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very cohesive and rich book about one of the most interesting women out there. It was full of letters, notes, diary entries - all the details that make up the whole picture, of how strong and wild Frida was. Heart full of love for people, art, Diego and life in general.
Nothing really surprised me about Fridas life, as I knew pretty much all from before, but I loved how author intertwined the aspects of Fridas life to her works. Didn't really appreciated the author's ability to see reproductive
...more
Jodi
Aug 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art-books
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 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
...more
Chrissie
Most of us know about the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and how she suffered. Her suffering is unimaginable. The book begins with the details of her bout with polio and then her accident, when the bus she was riding in, in Mexico City, was hit by a tram. September 17, 1925. Her letters to her boyfriend, Alejandro Gómez Arias, are excruciating to read. He attempts to escape (her); she hangs on with an unrelenting fervor. Letter after letter are included in this book. (Stricter editing please!) Her ...more
Eve Kay
Jun 27, 2018 rated it liked it
The beginning and the end were the best parts of this biography. The author writes objectively about Frida's life in these parts and in a way just simply recounts her life and adds passages from other people involved in her life one way or other.
The middle part was tough, I grudged through. I detested the author's way of reducing Frida to this depressive obsessive with no life, no passion, no future, no ambition. Just a wife but not just a wife, a woman desperately attached to a man who did not
...more
Tifnie
Oct 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in art and Frida Kahlo
Shelves: biography
This was a fascinating book. I felt, while reading this book, I also got an art history lesson. I remember Frida Kahlo's art as being dark, vulgar, and somewhat childish, but I didn't really know the history behind the paintings and that of Frida's life story.

From a young age, Frida Kahlo was outgoing, outspoken, and a prankster. She lived life to the fullest and often got into trouble. Unfortunately, a horrific accident at age 18 changed the course of her life. Her paintings are mostly self por
...more
Jessica
Feb 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
An excellent biography: why did any more need to be written?? And I must make clear that I read this book in the D.F. in the 80's after seeing her home in Coyoacan, long before the Frida craze began...Yes, I was ahead of the curve! Yes I am a trendsetter! No I'm not a sheep! seriously, Kahlo is a great artist and I hate how commodified her life and her work have become. Some great artists have as their subject the self, and the self is as rich and vast a canvas as any. ...more
Katherine
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the one you want if you're looking for a comprehensive biography of iconic, elusive 20th-century artist Frida Kahlo. So many later books and articles about her life reference this text--and for good reason. Herrera's account of Kahlo's short life is compulsively readable and, after more than 500 pages, only leaves you wanting more. ...more
Dani Diaz
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Definitely a must read! Hayden Herrera was able to connect every piece of Frida Khalo's life and create a very coherent and accurate description of her life and what she was going through at the time. This book contains different points of view, included but not limited to her intimate friends, past lovers, family, Diego Rivera and Frida Khalo herself. At times it felt like the story was being told by them and not Hayden Herrera. Timeline was tough to follow at times, however, I really enjoyed t ...more
Mohamedridha Alaskari محمد رضا العسكري
One of the biological ones you will never forget!
Bernadette
Mar 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of the best biographies I ever read!
Excellent!
Hhigly recommended for any art lover and appreciator of this woman's heart.
...more
M. (Inside My Library Mind)
More reviews up on my blog Inside My Library Mind

Actual rating: 2.5 stars

I have quite conflicted feelings about this one. On the one hand, this is incredibly detailed and it chronicles Frida's life from her birth to her death in a really detailed way, so it feels quite well researched. I am a huge fan of Kahlo's art but more importantly, I think she was a really interesting and remarkable woman, so I liked reading about her life in general, and there were parts of this that I really enjoyed
...more
Lake Villa District Library
Reading Our Way to Better Days in 2021: A book about the arts. Find this book in our catalog! ...more
Kristina
2020 Review
Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera is a detailed and excellent account of the life of Frida Kahlo, the Mexican artist who died in 1954. The book is written for the general reader, so you do not have to be an artist, painter, or someone knowledgeable in art history to appreciate it.

Herrera interviewed Kahlo’s relatives, friends, doctors and contemporaries, as well as researched articles. She also had access to letters Frida wrote to friends and lovers and her personal
...more
Doria
Apr 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: art-lovers, those interested in Frida Kahlo and Mexican Art and Mexican History
What a fascinating read! Granted, I love non-fiction, especially heavily footnoted biographies, and I recognize that they are not everyone's cup of tea, but still. I found this to be an excellent book, superbly well written, filled with fascinating details, meticulously researched, inclusive of all relevant details, whether they fit comfortably into our notion of who Frida was or not.

Herrera showed herself to be entirely lacking in prejudice in her devoted search for the truth of who Frida Kahl
...more
Laura
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
After being introduced to Frida Kahlo when I was 13 during my Spanish lessons, I kept being mesmerized by this strong and feminist figure. I had promised myself to read more about her, to discover her life in depth and get to know her more.

I saw this book in Waterstones when I was on a trip and was intrigued. I made the mistake of reading some reviews first which turned my reading into something sceptical and full of assumptions. To be honest, I think it is a good book but it could have been sh
...more
Marci
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in 1998, after seeing a thumbnail image of the Two Fridas in an art history textbook. Thus began my complete obsession with Kahlo. I just stood before the actual painting tonight at the Dallas Museum of Art. It is larger than I thought, and it took my breath away. Ugly crying also may have occurred, but what happens at the DMA stays at the DMA. I'm waiting to hear Herrera speak now, and I'm bummed that I forgot to bring the bio to have her sign. This biography is one of the best ...more
Maggie
Jan 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
I love this biography, start to finish. Frida amazes me, and the breadth of this book is astonishing.
Inga
May 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book really brought Frida to life and included interesting insights into her work...
Rob
Apr 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Very accessible bio of an amazing artist
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Hayden Herrera is an art historian. She has lectured widely, curated several exhibitions of art, taught Latin American art at New York University, and has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. She is the author of numerous articles and reviews for such publications as Art in America, Art Forum, Connoisseur, and the New York Times, among others. Her books include Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo; ...more

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