Taschen publishes 152 paintings from iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo in the most extensive study to date
The mammoth book, titled Frida Kahlo. The Complete Paintings, houses her notable self-portraiture, diary pages, letters, an illustrated biography and rarely seen photographs.
- Ayla Angelos
- 19 July 2021
A new publication from Taschen brings together 152 paintings from the iconic painter Frida Kahlo, a key figure of 20th century art who's had enduring impact on the artworld. Titled Frida Kahlo. The Complete Paintings, the comprehensive book compiles a study of her work and life to date, in turn compiling a vast selection of her paintings, diary pages, letters, an illustrated biography, plus rarely seen photographs from Edward Weston, Manuel Lola Álvarez Bravo, Nickolas Muray and Martin Munkácsi. Much of the book’s contents have been held in private collections previously, and sheds light on reproduced works that had been lost or unseen for more than 80 years.
Featuring over 50 examples of her recognisable self-portraiture – the notable paintings depicting her statement eyebrows and fashion, for example – the book is an emblem of both her unmistakable face, life and work. She reached such acclaim that her work received praise from the French writer, poet and surrealism theorist André Breton, who not only exhibited her work in Paris in 1939 to admirers Picasso, Kandinsky and Duchamp, but he also added her to the ranks of international surrealism.
The book’s author, editor and art historian Luis-Martín Lozano says of the publication’s impact: “I truly hope that our young readers realise that Frida Kahlo’s accomplishments as an artist were based on a profound curiosity to research and question the reality that surrounded her, from the conventions of society to the complexity of the historical events which surrounded her life.”
Going into detail behind each of her paintings, the book discusses the complexity and intentions of both her work and the ways in which Kahlo was “aware of the social and cultural conditions of the country in which she lived, either Mexico or the United States.” Luis-Martín adds: “And, as she embraced cultural traditions, at the same time, had an openness to new ideas, aesthetics and trends. Her uniqueness in art history is not only based in a feminist agenda as it has been stressed out in recent years, but mostly in her capacity to engage in ideological and aesthetic discussions of her time and contemporaries, in subjects such as public art and surrealism, and make them part of her core as an artist.”
Kahlo has had an undeniable impact on contemporary art. Her “political agenda about identity, gender, feminism, Marxism and psychology”, says Luis-Martín, has influenced many artists in Mexico and further abroad. This includes the likes of Japanese photographer Yasumasa Morimura, who’s been “working in detail around Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits and the construction of the self against Western conventions of representation.” Kiki Smith, an American contemporary artist, has also worked largely with the woman’s body as a political statement “recognising Kahlo’s work as a starting strategy.”
Frida Kahlo. The Complete Paintings is the most extensive study of Kahlo thus far, and along with Luis-Martín as the book’s editor and author, it also pulls together the work of contributing authors Andrea Kettenmann and Marina Vázquez Ramos.
“Through Kahlo’s work, she has become one of Mexico’s ultimate ambassadors and a torchbearer for freedom and women's choice with regards to sexuality, reproduction and equal opportunities,” says Luis-Martín on a lasting note about her far-reaching impact. “Further, her paintings have become a subject for interdisciplinary study in sociology and psychology, and for new ways of considering art history. Her paintings pose an open sincerity that create a direct empathy with viewers from all around the globe; her message and intentions have a direct quality of communication.”
Frida Kahlo. The Complete Paintings. Luis-Martín Lozano, Andrea Kettenmann, Marina Vázquez Ramos. Hardcover, 11.4 x 15.6 in., 11.91 lb, 624 pages. US $200 | GBP £150 | EUR €150
P.193, The Two Fridas, 1939 Oil on canvas, 173.5 x 173 cm (68. x 68⅛ in.) Mexico City, Ministry of Culture, Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura, Museo de Arte Moderno. Photo credit: LML Archive Copyright: © Banco de Mexico Diego Rive ra Frida Kahlo Museums Trust / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2021; reproduction authorised by the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura, 2021
About the Author
Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she became online editor in 2022 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima.