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Frida Kahlo and San Francisco

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This book marks the triumphant return of Frida Kahlo to San Francisco, the city where her artistic life began to unfold. Kahlo’s sojourns to the United States were brief, but formative. It was in the California city—the first she visited in the US—that she ventured into a new world beyond the scope of Coyoacán, Mexico City, and Cuernavaca.

Kahlo first visited San Francisco in 1930 with her husband Diego Rivera and stayed for a year while he completed murals for the City Club of San Francisco and the San Francisco Art Institute. It was love at first sight. Kahlo appreciated the beauty of the city, relished its ethnic diversity, and was mesmerized by neighborhoods like Chinatown. She met fascinating people, many of whom became lifelong friends. It was also in San Francisco that Kahlo began to fashion her indigenous (and now iconic) Mexican identity, deliberately distinguishing herself from the local women, whom she called “scarecrows” and “dull.” Kahlo refined her sartorial flair, enhanced her political and social worldview, and began to paint seriously. Today she is recognized as a cultural icon, and one of the most critically acclaimed artists of the twentieth century.
Presented alongside a major exhibition at the de Young museum in San Francisco, this catalogue includes essays exploring Kahlo’s role as an artist and her time in San Francisco, as well as a selection of artworks by the artist and photographs of her. Frida Kahlo and San Francisco provides a unique opportunity to examine the ways in which politics, gender, trauma, and national identity influenced Kahlo’s diverse modes of creativity.

Exhibition Schedule

  • De Young

San Francisco, CA
March 21–July 26, 2020

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