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Posts Tagged ‘frida kahlo’

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Photo: Laure Joliet
Important shows are proliferating for 98-year-old artist Luchita Hurtado. “Luchita Hurtado. Dark Years” — was on view at New York’s Hauser & Wirth gallery earlier this year, and more exhibits are scheduled around the world.

In my after-kids career, I had jobs in which my colleagues were nearly always decades younger than me. I didn’t want to tell anyone my age. If the workplace celebrated birthdays, I didn’t want anyone to know when mine was. On Facebook, my date of birth is still visible only to me (and Facebook, alas).

So I loved what this artist who’s getting big shows at 98 had to say about revealing her age.

‘The older I get, the more I want to tell you how old I am,’ the 98-year-old artist Luchita Hurtado says, gesturing toward the paintings in her Los Angeles studio. ‘I’m showing off. Sometimes I feel that I’m really overdoing it.’

Maybe if I get to 98 with all my marbles, I will feel the same.

Anna Furman writes at the New York Times, “On a cloudless afternoon in October, I meet the artist Luchita Hurtado, 98, in her Santa Monica home studio — a sand-colored three-story building a 20-minute walk from the Pacific Ocean. Inside, her riotously colorful paintings — in which genderless figures transform into trees — animate the walls of her compact 145-square-foot studio, interspersed with dried leaves and a framed rare butterfly. …

“She recounts searching for Olmec colossal heads from a two-seater plane above San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán; camping at the Lascaux Cave in southern France before the site closed permanently to the public in 1963; posing for Man Ray, and forging friendships with Frida Kahlo, Isamu Noguchi and Leonora Carrington. …

“Hurtado has recently experienced a rise to fame that has been thrilling to witness — albeit maddening in its lateness. … In her expansive oil paintings, ink-based drawings, fabric collages and patterned garments, Hurtado explores what she sees as the interconnectedness of all beings. Her paintings from the ’70s [represent] women as sacred beings, powerful subjects of their own lives. …

“Born in the seaside town of Maiquetía, Venezuela, in 1920, Hurtado migrated to New York at age 8. At the then-all-girls high school Washington Irving, she studied fine art and developed a keen interest in anti-fascist political movements. [At one point], she supported herself by creating imaginative installations for Lord & Taylor and fashion illustrations for Vogue — at night, she created totemic figure drawings with watercolor and crayon. …

“ ‘Luchita has always had this very fluid identity, which makes her art so 21st century,’ says the curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, who is organizing her retrospective in London. ‘We have to contextualize her clearly with the historic avant-garde, because she is a contemporary of Frida Kahlo, she knew Diego Rivera and was married to Wolfgang Paalen, a key figure of surrealism — and she is a key figure of spiritual surrealism, with a connection to pre-Columbian art, but we cannot lock her in that.’…

“Hurtado possesses the grace of someone who has not spent her life promoting her art, but quietly and diligently producing it — at her kitchen table, in backyards and closets and, at one point, in a stand-alone studio in the Santa Monica Canyon. …

‘I never stopped drawing, looking, living,’ she tells me. ‘It’s all the same thing, all solving your own life. …

” ‘I remember my childhood more and more,’ Hurtado tells me, tucking a tortoiseshell comb into her hair, which she had cut short herself the day before. She shares memories from Venezuela — hiding under fan-shaped leaves, watching crabs scuttle across the beach, devouring mangoes in a cool stream.

“Lately, when she wakes, she sees a vision of a pink ceiling floating above her. I imagine the series of paintings she created in 1975 in which bright-white squares are framed by mesmerizing planes of blue, goldenrod and fiery red — intended to draw moths to an illusory light, they give off a sense of ascension and expansion.

‘I’ve concluded that I’m going somewhere,’ she tells me. ‘It’s not death; it’s a border that we cross. I don’t think I’ll be able to come back and tell you, but if I can, I’ll find a way. If you suddenly see a pink ceiling, that’s me.’

Read her reasons for promoting different husbands’ work, never her own, at the New York Times, here.

 

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Photo: Edward B. Silberstein/Cincinnati Art Museum/© 2018 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Bernard Silberstein photographed the artist with “La Mesa Herida” in 1941, a year after she finished the work. Where is it now?

Here’s a real-life mystery that reads like a detective novel — my kind of thing.

Natalie Schachar writes at the Art Newspaper, “The hunt for Frida Kahlo’s long-lost painting ‘La Mesa Herida’ (‘The Wounded Table,’ 1940) has been revived in Mexico, where a researcher says he expects to track it down within five years. The work, a holy grail for Kahlo scholars, went missing after the artist donated it to the former Soviet Union. Last seen in an exhibition in Warsaw in 1955, it disappeared on its way to Moscow. …

“Raúl Cano Monroy, an investigator who organised an exhibition at Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo’s Home-Study Museum in Mexico City last year, says he has uncovered new clues after working with the archive of the National Front of Plastic Arts, which promoted Mexican art abroad during the 1950s. …

” ‘La Mesa Herida’ is Kahlo’s largest painting, measuring around 1.2m by 2.4m, and was done in oil on wood rather than on canvas. The work is a surreal depiction of Kahlo and guests. … The work has been valued at more than $20m today.

“ ‘It’s important because it’s not only a self-portrait, it’s a statement,’ says Helga Prignitz-Poda, a curator and art historian who is working on an updated catalogue of Kahlo’s art. … Prignitz-Poda and the independent curator Katarina Lopatkina outlined their findings about the painting’s history in a recent essay for the International Foundation for Art Research (Ifar) Journal. The authors say that, although Kahlo, a dedicated Communist, sent the work to Moscow as ‘a gift of friendship.’ documents show that Soviet officials considered it to be an example of ‘decadent bourgeois formalist art’ and unsuitable for public display.

“In 1954, the same year Kahlo died, Rivera requested that the painting be shown in Poland in an exhibition with other works by Mexican artists. The show at Warsaw’s Zacheta National Gallery of Art proved so popular that it was sent on tour to other countries in the Soviet Union and even made it to China. However, ‘there was no trace’ of ‘La Mesa Herida’ after the Warsaw leg, Prignitz-Poda says.”

More at the Art Newspaper, here. Wish I could tell you why Mexican-art sleuth Raúl Cano Monroy thinks he will find Kahlo’s missing work in five years, but he’s playing it close to the vest. I mean, why five years?

Stay tuned.

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I hope you’ll enjoy these photos and some explanations. The only one I didn’t take myself is the photograph of a dime.

Here’s the story of that. A couple days after the temporary ban on travelers from seven countries was announced, the teacher in a refugee ESL class where I volunteer was teaching about money — what different coins and bills are worth, whose picture is on them, what the words say, and so on. On her big video screen, she pointed out the phrase gracing the dime, “E Pluribus Unum,” and since I’d had Latin, I translated it as “Out of Many, One.” Sure did seem timely.

The sign from the January Women’s March was on a neighbor’s fence. The unprepossessing gray house, we recently discovered, was a Norwegian church in the 1800s. My husband had been telling his coffee group that he saw a sign by the Concord Post Office that said “Parking for Norwegians Only,” and someone told him, “Probably has something to do with the Norwegian church that used to be on Lang Street.” A Norwegian church was on Lang Street? That was a surprise!

The angry sky and the pictures of lichen need no explanation. The frosted window was taken last Friday, after our big storm.

The Frida Kahlo portrait was painted on a wall in the parking lot of Dorcas International, a refugee resettlement center in Providence.

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