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The riveting story of how three years spent in the United States transformed Frida Kahlo into the artist we know today Mexican artist Frida Kahlo adored adventure. In November, 1930, she was thrilled to realize her dream of traveling to the United States to live in San Francisco, Detroit, and New York. Still, leaving her family and her country for the first time was monumen The riveting story of how three years spent in the United States transformed Frida Kahlo into the artist we know today Mexican artist Frida Kahlo adored adventure. In November, 1930, she was thrilled to realize her dream of traveling to the United States to live in San Francisco, Detroit, and New York. Still, leaving her family and her country for the first time was monumental. Only twenty-three and newly married to the already world-famous forty-three-year-old Diego Rivera, she was at a crossroads in her life and this new place, one filled with magnificent beauty, horrific poverty, racial tension, anti-Semitism, ethnic diversity, bland Midwestern food, and a thriving music scene, pushed Frida in unexpected directions. Shifts in her style of painting began to appear, cracks in her marriage widened, and tragedy struck, twice while she was living in Detroit. Frida in America is the first in-depth biography of these formative years spent in Gringolandia, a place Frida couldn't always understand. But it's precisely her feelings of being a stranger in a strange land that fueled her creative passions and an even stronger sense of Mexican identity. With vivid detail, Frida in America recreates the pivotal journey that made Senora Rivera the world famous Frida Kahlo.


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The riveting story of how three years spent in the United States transformed Frida Kahlo into the artist we know today Mexican artist Frida Kahlo adored adventure. In November, 1930, she was thrilled to realize her dream of traveling to the United States to live in San Francisco, Detroit, and New York. Still, leaving her family and her country for the first time was monumen The riveting story of how three years spent in the United States transformed Frida Kahlo into the artist we know today Mexican artist Frida Kahlo adored adventure. In November, 1930, she was thrilled to realize her dream of traveling to the United States to live in San Francisco, Detroit, and New York. Still, leaving her family and her country for the first time was monumental. Only twenty-three and newly married to the already world-famous forty-three-year-old Diego Rivera, she was at a crossroads in her life and this new place, one filled with magnificent beauty, horrific poverty, racial tension, anti-Semitism, ethnic diversity, bland Midwestern food, and a thriving music scene, pushed Frida in unexpected directions. Shifts in her style of painting began to appear, cracks in her marriage widened, and tragedy struck, twice while she was living in Detroit. Frida in America is the first in-depth biography of these formative years spent in Gringolandia, a place Frida couldn't always understand. But it's precisely her feelings of being a stranger in a strange land that fueled her creative passions and an even stronger sense of Mexican identity. With vivid detail, Frida in America recreates the pivotal journey that made Senora Rivera the world famous Frida Kahlo.

30 review for Frida in America: The Creative Awakening of a Great Artist

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    I was so looking forward to this. I expected a deep dive into the three years Frida Kahlo, newly married to Diego Rivera, spent in America with him, first in San Francisco and also in New York and Detroit. I have twice tried to read it but managed this second time to get only a third of the way through. From the start Stahr notes that the definitive biography of Frida is Hayden Herrara's and it is and I've read it. I think it's fair to expect that someone who picks up "Frida in America" already I was so looking forward to this. I expected a deep dive into the three years Frida Kahlo, newly married to Diego Rivera, spent in America with him, first in San Francisco and also in New York and Detroit. I have twice tried to read it but managed this second time to get only a third of the way through. From the start Stahr notes that the definitive biography of Frida is Hayden Herrara's and it is and I've read it. I think it's fair to expect that someone who picks up "Frida in America" already knows a good deal about her life and art. But rather than focus on those three years the book constantly jumps backward and forward in time and is bogged down by extraneous detail. If the author wanted to make the book accessible to those who aren't already quite familiar with Frida's life story she could have started with a primer on Frida, even on her family and Diego. I wouldn't have minded as long as it then moved on to America. But it doesn't work that way. Their first stop was San Francisco yet the prologue takes place later on in Detroit and before long we're deep into her high school boyfriend. Frida came to San Francisco determined to be more than "Sra. Rivera" and she made it so. Along the way the couple made many friends and connections to visual artists and collectors. It's very interesting reading but not so much the info on the artists' backgrounds. Why Ansel Adams is in here I don't know, and I don't mean that literally. He's in here because he was an important influence on someone who had an important influence on someone else who was an important influence on a photographer who took portraits of Frida. I could have done without most of that and often I found myself thinking, this book is more tributaries than river. I don't think it was necessary to go into her German father's history let alone bring up new questions about his religion, as well as historical disagreement about the childhoods of her half-sisters. None of it matters enough to the newlyweds' trip to the United States, which was seminal for Frida. There's some very interesting material in here that's germane and I wish the book was just that. There's a short but lovely description of her visiting Chinatown for the first time in which Frida sensuously runs her hands over the lavish fabrics in a store. Fabric, what she wore at all times and what she had her models wearing, was very important to her personally and as messaging in her art. And she had never met any Chinese people before San Francisco. In America she met her first Afro-Americans too. She and Diego were there during the Great Depression. Before the trip she was already an intellectual and ideologue but being there during the Depression and seeing the impact of income disparity in the U.S. had a major effect on her life and art that would last her short lifetime. And it was in Detroit that doctors surgically ended her pregnancy and Frida would know she'd be unable to bear children. These things are what I wish the book had laser-focused on. There's also all the affairs Diego and Frida had; they had a big impact too. Everything that happened in America changed Frida's life and art, and a lot of it she made happen by refusing to be the little wife, Sra. Rivera. She made a name for herself here. I understand Stahr wanted to provide the reader context but much too often the context is the content. It didn't flow and didn't hold my interest. That was disappointing because Frida Kahlo is one of my favorite artists, and that's why I gave this book two tries and two stars.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

    Frida in America: The Creative Awakening of a Great Artist by Celia Stahr is an Advanced Reader Copy sent to me by the publisher. I’d like to thank St. Martin’s Press for noticing my interest in Frida Kahlo and sending me the book to read. I wish I could give it a more enthusiastic review. I first learned of Frida Kahlo, the great Mexican artist, when I was shelving art books as one of my duties working in a university library. Hayden Herrera’s book, Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo caught my ey Frida in America: The Creative Awakening of a Great Artist by Celia Stahr is an Advanced Reader Copy sent to me by the publisher. I’d like to thank St. Martin’s Press for noticing my interest in Frida Kahlo and sending me the book to read. I wish I could give it a more enthusiastic review. I first learned of Frida Kahlo, the great Mexican artist, when I was shelving art books as one of my duties working in a university library. Hayden Herrera’s book, Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo caught my eye. The cover illustration is of a woman with a unibrow and faint moustache with a monkey sitting on her shoulder. Huh, I thought. I sat down on the floor and started reading. Four hundred plus pages later, I was captivated by this woman and her art. Several years since I first read Herrara’s biography, I am still entranced. I’ve traveled to Philadelphia and Toronto just to see exhibits of her work. I have posters and (horribly enough) a mug featuring a reproduction of her painting Self-Portrait on the Borderline Between Mexico and the United States. I like to read different perspectives of her life, so I looked forward to Frida in America. Unfortunately, the book has many weaknesses that kept me from enjoying it. Stahr’s book (per the book’s back cover and the PR letter sent me) narrowly focuses on the three years Kahlo spent in the United States with her husband, Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. It’s the author’s assertion that these years creatively woke Kahlo and made her the powerful artist she became. I’m certainly not going to argue that; I’m not an expert in art history or Frida Kahlo. What I will argue is Stahr’s book is so unfocused and full of miscellaneous details that her main thesis is lost. To me, the book is merely a very detailed account of her time in San Francisco, New York City and Detroit. The idea that Frida has her creative awakening specifically because she is in these places rather than for any other reason (her personal joys and tragedies, her inevitable experimentation and growth as an artist) is not convincing. I did find some of the tangents into other subject matters (Henry Ford, the Rockefellers, and the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby—a sidebar I found so interesting it led me to a Google search about Charles Lindbergh and more recent evidence that reveals Lindbergh to have been something of an unpleasant weirdo and possibly the kidnapper/accidental killer of his own child) fascinating, but they obscured the theme of the book. Stahr’s prose flirts dangerously close to a style I detest in which the nonfictional subject is written about as if a character in a novel. It’s not so bad as Nathalia Holt (The Queens of Animation), with that author’s way of dramatizing events and having her subjects express emotions and thoughts not backed up by citations, but I sometimes felt as if Stahr’s Frida Kahlo were a fictional character. Stahr’s prose, while competent, isn’t enjoyable reading. I often got bored and lost in some of her excessive details. The technical weaknesses of the book are the most distracting. By that I mean the endnotes. It seems as if the most inconsequential details have notes. At the end of description of a friend’s kitchen, there is an endnote. Bemused, I flipped to the back and yes, indeed, the author felt compelled to let us know that her description wasn’t fictional, but pulled from an actual outside source. On page 220, there’s an endnote after a sentence that is a historical fact (the resignation of Pascual Ortiz Rubio). Do you need to provide a citation for a historical fact? Or is the endnote citing the partial quote earlier in the sentence? This confusion highlights a systemic problem with this book—the extravagant amount of endnotes. It seems as if almost every other sentence is decorated with tiny numbers. The multitude of endnotes distracted me from the text because I kept thinking, “Why the hell did the author cite this?” Often, many of the endnotes (sometimes several in a paragraph) are all from one source. Why individually cite this source repeatedly? Why not merely note it in a bibliography? Or, at the very least, use make use of the term “ibid.” There are pages of notes that list the same full source repeatedly, such as numbers 80-85. Stahr is a professor. Surely she’s published academic papers before? Another consistent problem is the odd way Stahr will only quote certain words from longer passages, e.g.: Frida liked the “sunny” day and was in a “happy” mood as she explored the “beautiful” museum. (This is not an actual quote from the book, btw but similar in style.) What the hell with the random quotation marks? Each sentence containing the randomly quoted words ends in a footnote. Why? Because Stahr pulled this innocuous sentence (again, not THIS one, but ones similar) from the unpublished diary of Lucienne Bloch, a friend of Frida and Diego. It’s really, really weird to see sentences containing one or two seemingly random words enclosed by quotation marks. Why not quote the whole sentence? Why not reword the author’s original words and make it an indirect quote? Why with all the weird and distracting quotation marks??!!! The last chapter is called “Emboldened Frida.” In no way do I feel that the author shows me an “emboldened Frida.” It ends rather abruptly, but launches into a fairly long epilogue which really just feels like another chapter (it could have been titled “Frida back in Mexico” because she continues to paint and grow as artist there but the author couldn’t do that since the book is supposed to focus only Frida in the USA). There are no photographs, illustrations, or reproductions of Frida’s paintings to go along with the text. I’m guessing that’s because this is an ARC. If the published version doesn’t include them, however, that would be a serious error. As a whole, Frida in America is more of a 2.5 star book. It has major issues that weaken my perception of it as a scholarly, professionally written book. The crazy proliferation of endnotes and randomly quoted words are a big problem for me. They say amateur, not professional. Maybe this will be cleaned up in the final published version. If I remember, I’ll check in March when the book is formally released. If I do, I will note that in my review. I didn’t care for the writing style. The author’s thesis is obscured by unnecessary (if sometimes interesting) tangents and the minutiae of Frida’s domestic life. I often felt as if the author hadn’t wanted her research to go to waste so she included it (aka info dumps) and as the reader I had to wade through them to get to what really mattered. I don’t feel as if I learned anything new about Frida Kahlo. What I can thank the author for is reawakening my interest in Kahlo. If you are interested, this is not a bad book to start with. However, Hayden Herrera’s most excellent 1983 biography (which I am rereading now) provides a more extensive exploration of Kahlo’s life. (Last minute note: the title of this book, Frida in America, strikes as being incredibly, amazingly oblivious to the reality that Mexico is an America—a country of North America. Is the United States the only America?

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    In 2015, I saw the Detroit Institute of Art (DAI) exhibition Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit. I knew Diego Rivera from the DIA court murals but I had known little about Frida Kahol. Reading Frida Kahol in America by Celia Stahr, specifically about Kahlo's time in Detroit, I could clearly remember her painting of her miscarriage in Henry Ford Hospital. We listened to the story on headphones and studied the unforgettable painting. Although the exhibit included works by Rivera, it was Kahlo In 2015, I saw the Detroit Institute of Art (DAI) exhibition Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit. I knew Diego Rivera from the DIA court murals but I had known little about Frida Kahol. Reading Frida Kahol in America by Celia Stahr, specifically about Kahlo's time in Detroit, I could clearly remember her painting of her miscarriage in Henry Ford Hospital. We listened to the story on headphones and studied the unforgettable painting. Although the exhibit included works by Rivera, it was Kahlo's that stuck in my mind. Rivera's Flower Seller was more accessible, 'prettier', but Kahlo's self-portraits grabbed my attention--those eyes, so direct and almost challenging, the self-confidence and self-acceptance revealed. Stahr shares that many who knew both Rivera and Kahlo said Kahlo was the better artist. She stood in the shadow of her husband's charismatic personality, diminished by the press, struggling to develop her artistic voice. Kahlo was in her early twenties when she married the older, famous artist, and only twenty-three when they arrived in America. Her life had already been eventful, suffering polio, scoliosis, spina bifida, and a life-threatening bus accident when she was a teenager. Pain accompanied her every day. She was a Communist, she challenged society's prescribed sex roles, and had suffered heartbreak as a spurned lover. It was so interesting to see American during the Depression through Kahlo's eyes. The wealthy industrialists were her husband's patrons--they paid the bills. They also represented a privileged class Kahlo found revolting. Kahlo wrote to her mother, "Witnessing the horrible poverty here and the millions of people who have no work, food, or home, who are cold and have no hope in this country of scumbag millionaires, who greedily grab everything, has profoundly shocked [us]." Of course, I was very interested in the artists' time in Detroit. The city had been one of the hardest hit by the Depression with 50% unemployment. I was shocked to read about the Ford Hunger March. Ford had reduced salaries and laid off workers, and since the workers lived in Ford housing they became homeless as well. Four thousand marched in freezing weather to the gate of the Rouge River plant to be met by bullets and fire hoses, killing four people. River and Kahlo arrived a month after the event. Stahr addresses each painting created by Kahlo, explaining the work and its symbolism in detail, including the self-portrait made for her estranged lover, the groundbreaking paintings about her abortion and the miscarriage that spurred a traumatic 'rebirth' as had her bus accident had when she was eighteen years old. Stahr addresses the duality "at the root of Frida's sense of self," part of her "search for a unification of opposites, as the Aztecs and alchemists espoused." Kahlo's deeply personal art defied convention, delving into female experiences never before depicted in art. In comparison, Rivera's masterpiece murals at the Detroit Institute of Art look to the past, glorifying the pre-Depression industrial worker and the scientists and entrepreneurs who created industry. American industrialist millionaires were also aiding Hitler--Ford a known anti-semite, and oil companies supplying fuel and poisonous gasses to the Nazis. After Detroit, the couple went to New York City where Rivera was to create a mural for the new Rockefeller Center; a battle over a patron's control of an artist's content played itself out and resulted in the mural being boarded up. It could have happened in Detroit, but the scandalous murals drew record crowds to the DIA and turned around their finances. "Love is the basis of all life," Stahr quotes Kahlo. Love of country, for friends and family, sexual love, for home. Her relationship with Rivera was conflicted, their love affairs rending their marriage, resulting in divorce and remarriage. This is a revealing and deep study of Kahlo that truly educated me while engaging me emotionally with its subject. I was given a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Moonkiszt

    Frida in America Celia Stahr has presented us with a full and well-researched account of Frida Kahlo’s life and loves, troubles and tragedies, brilliance and bloom. Frida seems to have emerged and re-emerged out of her life experience on a daily basis, catepillar to butterfly, by infinity loops. Frida in America: The Creative Awakening of a Great Artist helped me understand better this woman whose work disturbed me. Having grown up with a mother who painted, my sibs and me were constantly plunked Frida in America Celia Stahr has presented us with a full and well-researched account of Frida Kahlo’s life and loves, troubles and tragedies, brilliance and bloom. Frida seems to have emerged and re-emerged out of her life experience on a daily basis, catepillar to butterfly, by infinity loops. Frida in America: The Creative Awakening of a Great Artist helped me understand better this woman whose work disturbed me. Having grown up with a mother who painted, my sibs and me were constantly plunked down in front of art and told to report back on what we saw, how we felt and what meaning did we think the artist was trying to express. Mostly toddlers and grade-schoolers, we answered as you would think, monosyllabically – but she was a pusher, was our mom. Once she plunked us down in front of Frida’s work. I loved the colors, bright, saturated and rule-breaking. I didn’t like the people. No smiles, and they looked mad. As years went by, I added her to my not favorite lists. After I had kids and grew up a little, I ran across Frida's paintings, and her story. I’d fallen in love with Salvadore Dali and found her name mixed with his – I started a leisurely life stroll for more information about Frida. This book answers so many questions! Questions about why she did what she did, and who she did what she did. The book is true to title and focuses on key events in Frida's time spent in America. She grows eyes to see and ears to hear the difference between cultures, people, politics filtered through national aim and direction. What she gathers in her heart she spills out onto every canvas. There is no silence in her work. Frida's hunger, thirst, rage and hope all find their way into the hearts of those who stand and embrace her work. This book is a fine accompaniment to that appreciation – it is a text, albeit with a timeline and narrative that compels page turning with the same drive as a thriller or mystery. The concluding end materials are very satisfying. When you don’t want to be truly done, there is plenty to play with there. 5 stars for this work that Frida herself must be pleased with – finally, someone has loved her just as she is and gets it. A sincere thanks to Celia Stahr, St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing me an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Aimee Dars

    In 1930, newlyweds Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera embarked on a three-year stay to the United States where Diego had mural commissions in San Francisco, New York, and Detroit. Although Frida was seen by the press as a charming and subordinate wife, it is during this trip that she began to articulate her artistic identity, according to Celia Stahr in Frida in America. Stahr’s extensively researched biography provides intimate details of Frida and Diego’s three years in the United States as well as In 1930, newlyweds Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera embarked on a three-year stay to the United States where Diego had mural commissions in San Francisco, New York, and Detroit. Although Frida was seen by the press as a charming and subordinate wife, it is during this trip that she began to articulate her artistic identity, according to Celia Stahr in Frida in America. Stahr’s extensively researched biography provides intimate details of Frida and Diego’s three years in the United States as well as key moments before and after the visit. She was given unprecedented access to Lucienne Bloch’s journal. Bloch, an artist who served as Diego’s apprentice and was close to the couple, wrote copiously about the couple. Along with the diary, Stahr uses Frida’s own letters, contemporaneous accounts, and academic sources to present a comprehensive though lively tale of a feisty, witty, talented, and volatile artist on the cusp of self-discovery. The account of the couple’s activities in the United States, which includes descriptions of Frida’s mischievous mocking of Henry Ford and baiting of the Rockefellers, augmented by such personal sources, brings Frida to life. The book addresses Frida’s political views and her bisexuality and the tension of being an artist herself married to a man perceived as a genius. Stahr argues that along with Frida’s foundational experiences in Mexico, her time in the United States provided a catalyst for her artistic voice. Both the macro issues—income inequality, high unemployment, and poverty—plus the personal—continued medical trials, a complicated relationship with Diego, and devastating losses as well as new and fruitful friendships and affairs ignited a creative spark that helped Frida’s genius mature. Along with the chronicle of events, Stahr includes close analysis of important pieces Frida produced during this time, including Henry Ford Hospital, My Dress Hangs There, My Birth, Window Display on a Street in Detroit, and Self-Portrait on the Borderline Between Mexico and the United States, which appears on the cover of the book.. Since I don’t have a background in Art History, I don’t have the tools to evaluate her process of interpretation. Some of Stahr’s conclusions seemed very speculative, based on suppositions about what Frida might or might not have known, thought, or saw. At the same time, the rigorous attention to detail made me think about Frida’s paintings in a way I haven’t before. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Robin Tobin (On the back porch reading)

    Frida is such a fascinating woman. I find myself so drawn to her life and art. This biography is the best I have read. I devoured this read. I will reread it again and again. The author made it easy to feel you were next to Frida as her life unfolded. The sounds, smells, emotions, love, hate, discoveries, pain and innocence all unfolding with crisp detail and heartfelt wordsmithing... I truly have my mouth open in awe as I finish the last page. I wish it wasn't over.... I received this ARC from S Frida is such a fascinating woman. I find myself so drawn to her life and art. This biography is the best I have read. I devoured this read. I will reread it again and again. The author made it easy to feel you were next to Frida as her life unfolded. The sounds, smells, emotions, love, hate, discoveries, pain and innocence all unfolding with crisp detail and heartfelt wordsmithing... I truly have my mouth open in awe as I finish the last page. I wish it wasn't over.... I received this ARC from St Martin's Press. Thank you for the opportunity to give my honest opinion. This is a winner!

  7. 4 out of 5

    eyes.2c

    Frida! Frida Kahlo. I love her work, her ideas, and the colorfulness of her personality. And yes, when I've visited Mexico I've picked up some wonderful pieces of fun jewelry that represent her, kitsch or not. I enjoy wearing something that harkens to the talented and revolutionary soul Frida was in oh so many ways. This book covers the years Frida spent in the United States and how that influenced her aesthetically and politically. Celia Stahr has captured the person of Frida. One idea that struc Frida! Frida Kahlo. I love her work, her ideas, and the colorfulness of her personality. And yes, when I've visited Mexico I've picked up some wonderful pieces of fun jewelry that represent her, kitsch or not. I enjoy wearing something that harkens to the talented and revolutionary soul Frida was in oh so many ways. This book covers the years Frida spent in the United States and how that influenced her aesthetically and politically. Celia Stahr has captured the person of Frida. One idea that struck me was that, 'the duality of life for the Aztecs, as for Frida, was a bringing together of opposites. “Everything is all and one."' Added to this was that that "notion of duality remained rooted in the land, and it shaped Frida’s psyche," and is reflected in her work. In its unpacking, a foundational concept about Frida and her creative spirit. Adding relevant art works or photographs would have enhanced the production, but despite this, Stahr's quite eloquent work about Frida is very readable. A St. Martin's Press ARC via NetGalley

  8. 5 out of 5

    Shuhada Ramli

    Rating : 4.5 stars Review : It is a very comprehensive biography of Frida Kahlo contains of vibrant colours of her life, a prominent talent and her tormented emotions. As someone who appreciate arts and paintings, I was fascinated by the way Frida expressed her feelings especially the horrendous pain of her life through her artworks. Her broken marriage and upside down relationship with her husband Diego Rivera made me feel so sad about whatever things came up to her life. Despite all the great t Rating : 4.5 stars Review : It is a very comprehensive biography of Frida Kahlo contains of vibrant colours of her life, a prominent talent and her tormented emotions. As someone who appreciate arts and paintings, I was fascinated by the way Frida expressed her feelings especially the horrendous pain of her life through her artworks. Her broken marriage and upside down relationship with her husband Diego Rivera made me feel so sad about whatever things came up to her life. Despite all the great things that I have discovered about Frida from this book, I was also intrigued to know more about Diego Rivera and the living society during that years of mentioned in the book. And so, I was on and off depending on YouTube and other articles to make my reading became more interesting and fun. I would say, this in depth biography preserved not only their artwork but also their story of life. Awarding 4.5 stars to book and would recommend it for history and art lovers. I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Pollock

    Really enjoyed this historical look at a brief window of the life and career of Frida Kahlo. Lots of primary sources cited and some fascinating speculative analysis about her use of symbolism in various areas of her art and life. It was particularly cool to read this right before attending the Frida/Diego exhibit at the NC Museum of Art, showcasing the paintings of both Kahlo and Rivera, and also including works of their contemporaries and personal photographic portraits of one or both artists. Really enjoyed this historical look at a brief window of the life and career of Frida Kahlo. Lots of primary sources cited and some fascinating speculative analysis about her use of symbolism in various areas of her art and life. It was particularly cool to read this right before attending the Frida/Diego exhibit at the NC Museum of Art, showcasing the paintings of both Kahlo and Rivera, and also including works of their contemporaries and personal photographic portraits of one or both artists. I was given a copy of this book by #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Frida in America by Celia Stahr is a stunning biography into the fascinating and short life of the talented Frida (Frieda) Kahlo. This book focusses on the two years (1930/1932) that Frida and Diego Rivera visited, lived, and traveled throughout America. Ms Stahr was gracious enough to also give the reader plenty of insight into events that occurred in not only Frida’s life growing up and her earlier years before Rivera, but also the backgrounds of both her parents and many of her friends. I hav Frida in America by Celia Stahr is a stunning biography into the fascinating and short life of the talented Frida (Frieda) Kahlo. This book focusses on the two years (1930/1932) that Frida and Diego Rivera visited, lived, and traveled throughout America. Ms Stahr was gracious enough to also give the reader plenty of insight into events that occurred in not only Frida’s life growing up and her earlier years before Rivera, but also the backgrounds of both her parents and many of her friends. I have been a passionate fan of Kahlo’s for over 20 years, and there were still things that I was able to read about that I did not know. It was amazing to be able to read in depth concerning all of her inspirations and influences, as well as a deep search into the meanings of her pictures, paintings, and her fashion. She was a true genius that was not truly appreciated while she was alive. This jam-packed biography was just what I needed to add another angle into one of my most beloved artists. Frida was intelligent, open, passionate, imperfect, beautiful, and sometimes tortured soul that was sometimes emotional and yet reserved. She was an amazing woman and artist who was trying to find herself and her place within her family and loved ones and the society that was at the very least judgmental, overbearing, and limited for women at that time. The author gave us a glimpse into that soul and her meticulously researched book definitely did Frida justice. I am impressed. 5/5 stars Thank you NetGalley and St Martin’s Press for this stunning ARC and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon and B&N accounts upon publication.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Mcbroom

    A very different biography of artist Frida Kahlo. Stahr takes Frida on a journey to America and her views n the cities she visits. My favorite part of the book is how the clothing and pieces of jewelry shaped Frida as an artist.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Shari Suarez

    This is primarily a biography of Frida Kahlo when she was living in the United States with Diego Rivera. It gives a good insight into her mindset at the time as well as describing and analyzing the paintings she did at the time. The author also gives an excellent insight into Frida's state of mind as well as background about her family. Very well researched and interesting.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jeaninne Escallier Kato

    Finally...a companion book to Hayden Herrera's seminal 1983 extensive biography about Frida Kahlo called "Frida." Bravo to Celia Stahr for giving her readers a new angle on Frida's life in her biography "Frida in America." I found Ms. Stahr's version just as important as Ms. Herrera's breakthrough novel. I read this book as fast as I eat popcorn, popping one tasty page into my mind as fast as I could scan it. In fact, like I did with Herrera's novel, I will have to read Stahr's novel, again and Finally...a companion book to Hayden Herrera's seminal 1983 extensive biography about Frida Kahlo called "Frida." Bravo to Celia Stahr for giving her readers a new angle on Frida's life in her biography "Frida in America." I found Ms. Stahr's version just as important as Ms. Herrera's breakthrough novel. I read this book as fast as I eat popcorn, popping one tasty page into my mind as fast as I could scan it. In fact, like I did with Herrera's novel, I will have to read Stahr's novel, again and again. Her ten-year research packs this novel with new information I had not had privy to before in my fifteen-year quest getting to know Frida Kahlo. And, to lend credence to my authority as a Fridaphile, Frida's story changed my life. After I read "Frida," I started Spanish studies, visited all of Frida's homes and museums in Mexico, changed teaching positions from a high school position to a bilingual elementary school, predominantly Mexican American. I devoted my life to my Mexican students by developing a non-profit scholarship program and writing the children's book "Manuel's Murals." I dedicated my book to the art of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. My home is a shrine to Frida and Mexican art. Because Mexico is my spirit place, I delved into my ancestry. I found out that my paternal Great Great Grandparents are from the state of Sonora in Mexico. I know Frida. I am convinced that "Frida in America" is part of my preordained reading journey to bring Frida back to my life's destiny. It is no accident that St. Martin's Press asked me to review an advanced copy. It's as if Ms. Stahr took a magnifying glass to Frida's life and unearthed all the bits and pieces of her destiny, as well. I was extremely emotional when I read the intimacies of Frida's relationship with her parents, Matilde and Wilhelm, AKA Guillermo, through letters and firsthand accounts. I knew that Frida was emotionally torn between her strict, Mexican Catholic mother and her German atheist father because they both gave her opposing views of life. However, the letters and conversations show two devoted, loving and proud parents of this wild child who was blessed with an inordinate amount of intelligence and creativity. Each parent had a positive affect on how Frida was able to survive many devastating incidents and develop her talents, starting with the accident that crippled her for life. Frida's devotion to her parents was so strong, Stahr's detailed account had me in tears. I was mesmerized by how Stahr crafted Frida's journey through America. I already knew of the dates and times of Frida's activities there, but I never even considered looking at her growth through the maturity of her art, as Stahr describes so beautifully. I was constantly looking up people and paintings on the internet as I read, drinking up all the history that this book offers. Stahr took the chronology of Frida's life, then opened up windows and doors along the way of each event of Frida's life, allowing the reader to walk through new rooms of information, packed with sights, sounds, feelings and tastes. For example, the Mexican art exhibition in Mexico City in 1940, featuring many of Frida's works, was attended by many of the greatest artists of the day, Georgia O'Keefe, Alfred Stieglitz, Clemente Orozco, Carlos Chavez, to name a few. Also in attendance, movie stars such as Greta Garbo, Hedy Lamarr, Paul Robeson, and Edward G. Robinson, who bought four of Frida's paintings, giving her enough money to travel back to New York to have her own exhibition in the Julien Levy Gallery. Can you imagine how exciting it would have been to be in that room watching Frida blush with joy at all the famous attention for her art?! What a joy for me to read more in-depth about Frida's friendship with one of Diego Rivera's assistants, Lucienne Bloch. I am proud to know Lucienne's granddaughter, Lucienne Allen, who provided much of this information to Ms. Stahr. However, to read, word for word, of their time in New York City, Detroit, and Coyoacan together as best friends, navigating through Frida's miscarriage, her mother's death, and the demise of Diego's RCA murals, was riveting and heartfelt. I was brought back to the day I visited Ms. Allen in Northern California when she generously shared Frida's letters and jewelry her grandmother, Lucienne Bloch, kept all those years. This book is like that day-meeting new people, finding new treasures, and forging friendships for life. I can't wait to read it again...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sara Hill

    Frida in America by Celia Stahr is such a complex and detailed book predominantly about Frida Kahlo’s years in America and how they molded and influenced her artwork. The book starts mostly narrating Kahlo’s early years and the defining moments that shaped her life to come. While her younger years were mostly tragic, they were also diverse and interesting. The different events and people in her life also lead to a highly dynamic mind, spiritual viewpoint, and thought process. Kahlo had several in Frida in America by Celia Stahr is such a complex and detailed book predominantly about Frida Kahlo’s years in America and how they molded and influenced her artwork. The book starts mostly narrating Kahlo’s early years and the defining moments that shaped her life to come. While her younger years were mostly tragic, they were also diverse and interesting. The different events and people in her life also lead to a highly dynamic mind, spiritual viewpoint, and thought process. Kahlo had several interesting relationships. Many of these relationships, while with famous and influential people, were extremely unhealthy. Her family had an odd respect for her. They thought she was intelligent but unattractive. Her dad even believed she possessed a demon inside of her. Her very complex family life transfers us into her marriage to Diego. Her marriage to Diego was all over the place. Their union was sad and so unhealthy. It was said that Kahlo always shared her special people with others. There is so much detail about Frida’s art. Her art expressed her life’s story is such a unique way. Kahlo’s sexuality is a key component in this narrative and is explored in great depth. It was so influential in her artwork. The details that Stahr researched and included were fascinating. They gave me a fresh perspective on Kahlo’s artwork. This book contains a secondary story and that is the history of the world along with the thoughts and beliefs of people at the time. The book crosses over a few majour cities and the different art and culture that were prominent at the time, in each area. There are several famous and historic people of interest who are touched on, as well. Like all of Kahlo’s other relationships, these relationships were just as unique and often tragic. While I enjoyed this book, it was a little much for me. I love well researched books and I really appreciate the time and effort that Stahr put into her work. My favourire component was the historical aspect and the thoughts and culture of the time, followed by the details and symbolism that Kahlo incorporated into her artwork. While, Kahlo’s life is important and the main reason anyone would want to read this, for someone newer to her life there were a lot of details to sift through. Frida in America is extremely well researched and very detailed account of a transformative time in Kahlo’s life. For anyone interested in her or her art this is the perfect book to start with. I received an electronic Advanced Reader Copy from St. Martin’s Press through Net Galley. All opinions are 100% my own.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Sadler

    This is a substantial biography of one of most iconic 20th century artists and a genuine feminist icon. Celia, after all, is an author who knows her stuff, given that she is a Professor on modern American and contemporary art at the University of San Francisco. Ostensibly, the book focuses on Frida’s visit to the United States where, across three years, she not only established herself as a figure of fascination for the media and those in artistic circles, but during which time she also emerged This is a substantial biography of one of most iconic 20th century artists and a genuine feminist icon. Celia, after all, is an author who knows her stuff, given that she is a Professor on modern American and contemporary art at the University of San Francisco. Ostensibly, the book focuses on Frida’s visit to the United States where, across three years, she not only established herself as a figure of fascination for the media and those in artistic circles, but during which time she also emerged from the vast shadow cast by her on her own terms as an artist – but also this was a period where the marital strains between these two icons and egos became too much to bear. “Frida and Diego’s relationship was also buckling, but it wasn’t due to a lack of money or creature comforts. The emotional constraints of living in a foreign country where all eyes were focused on Diego and where Frida had to minor her behaviour and words had taken a toll.” However, this 450-page biography is so much more as, after all, what is studying Frida without focusing on her formative years and her artistic output as well as her personal life? And Celia does both justice with the first 100 pages dedicated to Frida’s childhood – the influence of her father, her traumatic accident, and her fascination with identity – before moving on to examine how the USA and her time there influenced both her work and her life. There are some fantastic passages in here; I particularly loved learning more about the friendship between Frida and Georgia O’Keeffe, understanding what art Frida was drawn to – who and what influenced her – and how she found herself in conflict with the Western art world, which was so often racist, sycophantic and false. “In San Francisco, Frida had posed for Imogen and Edward, looking regal, intelligent, engaged and beautiful, albeit with hints of the “noble savage” in the way she was portrayed by those artists.” Frida was an undeniably complex woman and Celia captures much of that internal and external conflict here but I respected her reluctance to spend too much gossiping about Frida’s personal life, instead focusing on how any relationship impacted on her art (it’s worth noting that I read this book with a copy of Frida Kahlo: Masterpieces alongside as Celia goes into great detail on the composition of Frida’s works, explaining their messages and the context in which each painting was created and finished). This is a book that puts Frida the artist front and centre – and it is a most welcome book for doing just that.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rhiannon Johnson

    I received a copy of this release from the publisher in exchange for an honest review I received this beautiful finished copy of Frida in America: The Creative Awakening of a Great Artist by Celia Stahr (released 3.3.20) months ago and couldn't wait to read it, but 2020 got off to a rocky start and just kept crumbling. I didn't want this to become one of those books that gets passed over, so better late than never!⁠ ⁠ I read Hayden Herrera's biography of Frida Kahlo after I was first exposed to Kah I received a copy of this release from the publisher in exchange for an honest review I received this beautiful finished copy of Frida in America: The Creative Awakening of a Great Artist by Celia Stahr (released 3.3.20) months ago and couldn't wait to read it, but 2020 got off to a rocky start and just kept crumbling. I didn't want this to become one of those books that gets passed over, so better late than never!⁠ ⁠ I read Hayden Herrera's biography of Frida Kahlo after I was first exposed to Kahlo's art in a college art appreciation class. I was instantly obsessed with Kahlo's art and I was searching for any information about her. I poured over art books at the library, looking for her work and was so excited to find her biography (This was early 2000s so I didn't have the endless online access that is available today.) ⁠ ⁠ I would recommend this release, Frida in America: The Creative Awakening of a Great Artist by Celia Stahr, as an accompanying text to Herrera's biography which spans her entire life in great detail. Stahr's book focuses on the three years Kahlo spent in the United States (Gringolandia) in the early 1930s. ⁠ Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest

  17. 5 out of 5

    Krista

    Rating: 4 illuminating stars Let me first state that I am a big Frida Kahlo fan. I have read several biographies about her. I have even been to her ‘Blue House’ (family home) museum in the Coyoacan neighborhood of Mexico City. While in Mexico City, I also visited Museum of Modern art, which displays many of her paintings. I am not an art historian, but I do enjoy art, and art history. This book helped deepen my appreciation for Frida Kahlo’s work, and her tumultuous life. Its primary focus is the Rating: 4 illuminating stars Let me first state that I am a big Frida Kahlo fan. I have read several biographies about her. I have even been to her ‘Blue House’ (family home) museum in the Coyoacan neighborhood of Mexico City. While in Mexico City, I also visited Museum of Modern art, which displays many of her paintings. I am not an art historian, but I do enjoy art, and art history. This book helped deepen my appreciation for Frida Kahlo’s work, and her tumultuous life. Its primary focus is the three years that she and her new husband, the muralist, Diego Rivera spent in the United States. During that time, they visited San Francisco, Detroit, and New York. I appreciated the way that the author interwove Kahlo’s life events of that visit with artwork she created. It gave me a deeper understanding of the underlying meaning of some of Kahlo’s paintings. Kahlo was a woman of many layers and moods. She strove to stretch herself personally and artistically. Celia Stahr’s book helped me better understand more of the layers that drove Kahlo to become the artist that the world knows today. This was an interesting and extensive biography of a short period in Frida Kahlo’s’ life. It included the people and events who shaped that life. I found it entertaining and educational. ‘Thank-You’ to NetGalley; the publisher, St. Martin’s Press; and the author, Celia Stahr, for providing a free e-ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ives Phillips

    I will not lie: I am honestly surprised that I managed to finish it in only nine days, because it felt like I was reading this for two weeks. I've had the advance reading copy given to me by St. Martin's Press, so there may be a lot of changes I'm not aware of, but it could do with cutting out some unnecessary information that doesn't pertain to Kahlo's journey and work, and maybe some photo inserts of some of Kahlo's pieces so people who are new to this historical figure can have examples to lo I will not lie: I am honestly surprised that I managed to finish it in only nine days, because it felt like I was reading this for two weeks. I've had the advance reading copy given to me by St. Martin's Press, so there may be a lot of changes I'm not aware of, but it could do with cutting out some unnecessary information that doesn't pertain to Kahlo's journey and work, and maybe some photo inserts of some of Kahlo's pieces so people who are new to this historical figure can have examples to look upon (and to make the book more interesting! I love seeing art! And it would make it feel less like a monotonous college lecture.) But as much as the book's material dragged on, the subject itself was gripping. There is so little about Kahlo that I knew -- which was why I requested the book, duh -- but reading the tumultuous life that Frida struggled and danced and sang through in between paintings, her triumphs in solidifying her identities, it was astounding.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Frida Kahlo is one of my favorite artists ever. I've read fictional accounts of her life, biographies, I've purchased books that are just photos of her art... I REALLY like her. When I saw this book was available on Netgalley, I really hoped to get it because Frida's life in America is not something that I've read a lot about. It was only a few years so it's generally a few paragraphs if mentioned at all. I have no idea why because her 3 years in the US were formative years in her career. She ex Frida Kahlo is one of my favorite artists ever. I've read fictional accounts of her life, biographies, I've purchased books that are just photos of her art... I REALLY like her. When I saw this book was available on Netgalley, I really hoped to get it because Frida's life in America is not something that I've read a lot about. It was only a few years so it's generally a few paragraphs if mentioned at all. I have no idea why because her 3 years in the US were formative years in her career. She experienced the racial tension, poverty, and anti-semitism of the time. But it was not all terrible, she also experienced the beauty in the US, the sights across the country, the food. It was vividly written and almost felt like a novel rather than a biography. I enjoyed it and have already been telling my art loving friends to look out for it. Thanks Netgalley for giving me the chance to enjoy this book!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Deb

    Frida in America by Celia Stahr If you are an art history major, this is your book. The life of Frida Kahlo, and, secondarily, her famous painter husband, Diego Rivera, is told in this extremely well researched book. Frida’s artistic life and her marriage to Diego were inarguably influenced by living three years in the United States. The stories of their travels to San Francisco, New York City and Detroit are interesting. Who Frida and Diego meet and spend time with is important to their overall Frida in America by Celia Stahr If you are an art history major, this is your book. The life of Frida Kahlo, and, secondarily, her famous painter husband, Diego Rivera, is told in this extremely well researched book. Frida’s artistic life and her marriage to Diego were inarguably influenced by living three years in the United States. The stories of their travels to San Francisco, New York City and Detroit are interesting. Who Frida and Diego meet and spend time with is important to their overall history. Where the author looses me is in her exhaustive pages -long details on every painting she describes. The minutiae of every detail, such as the placement of a hand to the position of a head and what that means, is mind boggling. The story, put together largely from diaries and journals, is not a very flattering portrait of Frida nor Diego-their lives were complicated-and you can’t have one without the other.They are immature and temperamental philanderers who despise America, yet are happy to live well and accept money from the wealthy they abhor. Other eye opening facts in the story include those of the Henry Ford and John Rockefeller families. While Frida was fragile in most of her relationships, she was also an avid feminist. For that she received criticism and little notice of her true artistic prowess until later in life. All in all this is not a very feel good tell-all of Frida and Diego, but it’s one you’ll not easily forget. My thanks to #StMartinsPress and #NetGalley for an ARC for this review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Doria

    [I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book from the publisher, St. Martin's Press.] The focus of this intensive biography of Frida Kahlo is a narrow but vital three-year period—1930-1933—when the artist was living abroad with her famous husband, Diego Rivera, in three different cities in the continental United States. Author Celia Stahr is interested in what she calls “the impact of place” upon the emerging young Mexican artist, and she notes further that “blood and the concept of duality b [I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book from the publisher, St. Martin's Press.] The focus of this intensive biography of Frida Kahlo is a narrow but vital three-year period—1930-1933—when the artist was living abroad with her famous husband, Diego Rivera, in three different cities in the continental United States. Author Celia Stahr is interested in what she calls “the impact of place” upon the emerging young Mexican artist, and she notes further that “blood and the concept of duality became central [to Kahlo] while living in the United States”. I would argue that Stahr’s assertion of Place and Duality as focal points are inextricably linked with a third element: Time. For it was during the fraught period of the Great Depression and the lead-up to the Second World War and the rise of Fascism that the young and newly married Kahlo had the extraordinary opportunity to live and observe life on the West Coast (San Francisco), the Midwest (Detroit) and the East Coast (New York City). Within the context of this biography, Kahlo’s art is taken seriously and analyzed closely, with a view to socio-political encoding, such as the snake-like red band used in one painting to connote the complicit role played by the Church in American class division during the Great Depression. Stahr notes Kahlo’s artfully inserted references to works by her husband Diego Rivera or other contemporary artists, such as her one-time lover Georgia O’Keefe. And there are the inescapable elements and episodes depicted boldly and bloodily from her own life, such as her traumatic miscarriage in Detroit. The author argues that this event in particular served to release Kahlo’s nascent artistic power and insight, launching her into the mature style which won her recognition and her first solo show. Essentially, the nexus created by socio-cultural dislocation during her sojourn in “Gringolandia” combined with her growing dissatisfaction in her marriage with her womanizing and self-absorbed husband, and then activated by the trauma of her near-fatal miscarriage and the sudden death of her mother, brought about the emergence of Frida Kahlo the Artist. Other factors played supporting roles in the making of the artist, such as Kahlo’s keen awareness of American social injustice, wealth disparity, and anti-semitism. But Stahr repeatedly asserts, rather convincingly, that Kahlo’s three-year American sojourn contains the catalysts for everything vital that flowed forth from the artist ever after. Naturally this point can be argued over, but the evidence is interesting to review, and Stahr does so in great detail. The book relies heavily on primary sources, such as photographs taken by family and lovers, unpublished journals of intimate associates, and Hayden Herrera’s seminal biography, which is the foundation for most of the scholarly done on work on Frida Kahlo over the last few decades. The writing is not as labored as scholarly writing tends to be, but reads rather personably. The arrangement of chapters is a bit confusing though, involving some clunky temporal backtracking. After plunging headlong into the trauma and terror of Kahlo’s Detroit miscarriage, which occurred about halfway through her time in the States, the author abruptly reverses course and takes us back in time and place to Mexico, reviewing the artist’s early youth and near-fatal bus accident. Eventually, we got back on course and return to Gringolandia, but this was a confusing way to start the journey. I was disappointed by the lack of reproduced images, which may be due in part to my reading an ARC; the published version will likely contain some. However, given that the author’s close analyses of photographs and artwork are central to this book, access to these images is critical. Thankfully, most can be found online. Be prepared to read this book with internet access!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Adams

    As with most biographies on artists, this is woefully short on pictures. Still, I couldn't put it down. Stahr's research emphasizes the time Frida spent in the United States. While her husband was painting controversial murals on the walls of rich people, Frida was challenging gender conventions, forming her own identity, and developing tremendous artistic skill and style. I will never see the paintings the same way.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Theresa Leone Davidson

    St. Martin's Press sent me an advance copy of this book, although of course that in no way influences my very positive review: the book is fantastic. Well researched and painstakingly detailed, it is mostly about Frida Kahlo's life when she lived in the United States but it includes more than just that: there is considerable information about her earlier life, before she met her husband, muralist Diego Rivera, including the horrible bus accident she was in, her political beliefs and friends, her St. Martin's Press sent me an advance copy of this book, although of course that in no way influences my very positive review: the book is fantastic. Well researched and painstakingly detailed, it is mostly about Frida Kahlo's life when she lived in the United States but it includes more than just that: there is considerable information about her earlier life, before she met her husband, muralist Diego Rivera, including the horrible bus accident she was in, her political beliefs and friends, her parents and a bit of their history. Stahr also discusses at length each of Kahlo's paintings and, as someone who has always loved her work, I found it so informative. Wonderful biography that I HIGHLY recommend!!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Stevens

    This was slow going for me, but very worthwhile. Frida now has iconic status, but this book goes into depth about a time in her life when she was young and completely unknown (except as Diego Rivera’s young wife). Stahr does a good job of creating context for this period, addressing her teen years as they shaped her, and her later years as her life and art were shaped by this 3 year interlude in the US. Nevertheless, the book’s focus is on just 3 years of Kahlo’s life, and there’s plenty there! I w This was slow going for me, but very worthwhile. Frida now has iconic status, but this book goes into depth about a time in her life when she was young and completely unknown (except as Diego Rivera’s young wife). Stahr does a good job of creating context for this period, addressing her teen years as they shaped her, and her later years as her life and art were shaped by this 3 year interlude in the US. Nevertheless, the book’s focus is on just 3 years of Kahlo’s life, and there’s plenty there! I will add that I enjoyed this book much more once I started googling the paintings and photos referenced within. I hope the print edition includes them! Stahr is pretty firm about the meaning of each work, but I appreciated viewing them and adding my own thoughts others. (With thanks to St. Martin’s and to NetGalley for the ARC.)

  25. 4 out of 5

    R.K. Cowles

    3 1/2 stars

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kaffeeklatsch and Books

    I read and own Hayden Herrera's Frida biography and compared this new biography focuses on her time in America. I find Frida absolutely fascinating and I enjoyed the in depth look, her thinking and the quotations. However I believe this book isn't necessarily for everyone as there are longer passages and detailed analysis about the symbolism in her paintings. The eARC doesn't contain any images but I believe the finished copy will. A great addition. Thank you Netgalley for providing me with an eARC.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne

    I really wanted to learn more about Frida but I never really got a sense of who she was. At 5% in I felt that a lot of the book was she did, she said, she went there and saw that. It wasn't written in a chronological fashion starting with her childhood and progressing through her school years and meeting and marrying Diego. I felt like the author did a tremendous amount of research in order to write the book and that's why I went with three stars but at one point the author is talking about Frid I really wanted to learn more about Frida but I never really got a sense of who she was. At 5% in I felt that a lot of the book was she did, she said, she went there and saw that. It wasn't written in a chronological fashion starting with her childhood and progressing through her school years and meeting and marrying Diego. I felt like the author did a tremendous amount of research in order to write the book and that's why I went with three stars but at one point the author is talking about Frida's recovery from the bus accident and then jumps to analyzing her rebirth announcement and then jump back further to her childhood and her imaginary friend and then to a speculation about DaVinci actually being Mona Lisa and then to cross dressing Marcel Duchamp. I admit that I skimmed most of the descriptions of her painting and what all the symbolism was. The book would be a whole lot shorter without all that and they didn't really give me insight into Frida. Without seeing the paintings that were described it was hard to imagine what it all meant. In one part she visits the home of Luther Burbank. He has passed away but they are spending some time with his widow. Before they leave they take group photos. All the other women are in dresses and Frida has on pants and a button down shirt. The authors says that perhaps she wore her boyish, proletarian outfit to show solidarity with Luther, a fellow radical who was ahead of his time. Or perhaps she chose the outfit because it was comfortable and they were going to be traveling. That reminded me of an interview I heard with an author where a reader asked her if she did something in the book, say make a character's dress red to represent blah blah blah and the author laughed and said no, she was reading too much into it, she just liked the color. My sense was there was so much information and it felt like after all that work the author didn't know how to present it. Frida was a remarkable person. I never did get any idea if she was a kind person but she seemed to love Diego. Maybe someone who is more familiar with her art would like this more than I did. I received the ebook from Netgalley for an honest opinion.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    When it is snowy and cold outside, superspeed readers like me can read 150 - 200+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book… and many more today. LOL I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. The riveting story of how three years spent in the United Stat When it is snowy and cold outside, superspeed readers like me can read 150 - 200+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book… and many more today. LOL I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. The riveting story of how three years spent in the United States transformed Frida Kahlo into the artist we know today Mexican artist Frida Kahlo adored adventure. In November 1930, she was thrilled to realize her dream of travelling to the United States to live in San Francisco, Detroit, and New York. Still, leaving her family and her country for the first time was monumental. Only twenty-three and newly married to the already world-famous forty-three-year-old Diego Rivera, she was at a crossroads in her life and this new place, one filled with magnificent beauty, horrific poverty, racial tension, anti-Semitism, ethnic diversity, bland Midwestern food, and a thriving music scene, pushed Frida in unexpected directions. Shifts in her style of painting began to appear, cracks in her marriage widened, and tragedy struck, twice while she was living in Detroit. Frida in America is the first in-depth biography of these formative years spent in Gringolandia, a place Frida couldn’t always understand. But it’s precisely her feelings of being a stranger in a strange land that fueled her creative passions and an even stronger sense of Mexican identity. With vivid detail, Frida in America recreates the pivotal journey that made Senora Rivera the world-famous Frida Kahlo. The book taught me a lot of things I didn't know or had forgotten - they were an explosive couple who believed in communism, loved tequila and loved each other despite their many differences which included Diego's love for Detroit and Frida's hatred of it. I had forgotten that they had spent so much time in Detroit, a city to which we frequently travel - I guess that it(turn left @ Slow's BBQ) is time to make a return trip to the Detroit Institute of Art. We actually love Little Mexico in Detroit for its food - Detroit actually has, now, a really amazing food scene that covers almost every cuisine in the world, so 90 years on Frida might have liked the food here!! The book, which was a debut for the author, was astounding - the research is evident but the book does not read like a textbook found in an art history university class. The author's love of the subject is evident: this is like a love letter to Kahlo and Rivera and their crazy, stupid love. It is well written and I can see book clubs devouring this book and talking about their marriages: add in some tequila and it could be a rocket ride of a meeting. As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I love emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/etc. " on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 🎨 🎨 🎨 🎨 🎨

  29. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Author Celia S. Stahr has done the exhaustive research one expects from a biography. Referencing the copious amounts of work by other biographies, the subject's expansive diaries, and the media of the era, Stahr presents a slice of Kahlo's all-too-brief life, that being the time she lived and worked in America. Interspersed with the American storyline are some chapters more devoted to background information to further flesh out not only Kahlo, but the larger premise of the work. The read was gen Author Celia S. Stahr has done the exhaustive research one expects from a biography. Referencing the copious amounts of work by other biographies, the subject's expansive diaries, and the media of the era, Stahr presents a slice of Kahlo's all-too-brief life, that being the time she lived and worked in America. Interspersed with the American storyline are some chapters more devoted to background information to further flesh out not only Kahlo, but the larger premise of the work. The read was generally engaging, especially in the fact that this biography has more of a political edge to it. I read the superb Hayden Herrera biography and it remains not only the Bible for all things Frida Kahlo, but also the most comprehensive and thoughtful biography I've ever read of anyone. Those are huge shoes for Stahr to fill, but she gives it her all. Wisely, instead of trying to outdo that book, Frida in America focuses on other facets of Kahlo's fascinating personality and her expansive area of interest. Frida was nothing if not insatiably curious, passionate, and a champion of her beliefs. Her time in America provoked, prodded, disgusted, and infuriated her. It is an era in which she painted some of her most famous pieces. It's no coincidence that America influenced her art immensely. Stahr demonstrates this masterfully throughout her book. We get the host of players in her life; lovers, fellow artists, and of course her confounding muse and husband Diego Rivera. Frida Kahlo's art is arguably some of the most intensely personal you'll ever see. No subject was off limits to Kahlo, and her devastatingly difficult life was poured out on the canvas in a way that is incredibly compelling. Celia S. Stahr does a remarkable job orchestrating analysis of the paintings, the political and socio-economic environment of America during her time living here, and the emotional backstory of her dramatic life into one amazing symphonic biography. This is a great book for those looking to expand their understanding of this brilliant and unforgettable artist. It's a keeper for me.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Fernanda Luppani

    Stahr's work is an in-depth exploration of Frida Khalo's experiences while in the United States unlike ever published before. It proposes new understandings of her experiences and refreshing interpretations of her art. Comparisons to others artists’ pieces that might have served as inspiration or influence are presented and discussed enough to allow the reader to make connections but don't dive too deep avoiding bogging down the narrative. I particularly enjoyed the author's insights into Frida's Stahr's work is an in-depth exploration of Frida Khalo's experiences while in the United States unlike ever published before. It proposes new understandings of her experiences and refreshing interpretations of her art. Comparisons to others artists’ pieces that might have served as inspiration or influence are presented and discussed enough to allow the reader to make connections but don't dive too deep avoiding bogging down the narrative. I particularly enjoyed the author's insights into Frida's paternal and maternal lineage and background. By establishing particular familial personality traits their influence on Frida's life are extrapolated and used to illuminate parameters that shaped her choices as an artist. Stahr presents lots of background on supporting characters and US historical events that Frida witnessed and helped shape her experiences. A main thesis of the book is the claim that Frida found her artistic voice during this time spent in the United States and specially in Detroit and New York City. A corrective contribution to the art history field is made in the following passage where Stahr discusses Frida's exceptional creative power: "By focusing on Frida's look and her art as autobiography in an art world that favors the male genius, Frida's own genius tends to get buried... The autobiographical perspective diminishes all the hard work, forethought, and trial and error of learning her craft. And it takes away Frida's authority as creator. She didn't just paint her pain or joy. She drew upon a vast knowledge of art, philosophy, world religion, botany, politics, history, and Mexican cultural traditions." The book does an excellent job of discussing the origins of this knowledge set and its nurturing throughout Frida's life. I do wish photographs and art images were included in the book. I had to do a lot of googling to see what was so eloquently described. I was given an ARC from the publisher in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

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