Frida Kahlo has become an icon of contemporary art and feminism. This course examines her life and artistic production, and seeks to account for her status in Mexican and Latin American circles as well as in a broad international context. It emphasizes the self-consciously theatrical ways in which Kahlo’s work projects particular versions of the following general themes: ethnicity and "Mexicanness"; gender and sexuality; public and private selves; the body fragmented and in pain; and radical leftwing politics. In addition to discussing several dozen of Kahlo’s paintings, we also examine two feature films: Frida: Naturaleza viva (1984) directed by Paul Leduc, and the Hollywood production Frida (2002) directed by Julie Taymor.
The course starts with an overview of Mexican muralism and the role of art in post-revolutionary Mexico and concludes with an examination of the works of Kahlo’s contemporaries: María Izquierdo, Remedios Varo, and Leonora Carrington, all of whom painted in the shadow of male dominated Muralism.