POSTED July 24 2013

Frida on screen

Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo

Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo

She survived polio as a child, a crippling accident as a teen, and two volcanic marriages to muralist Diego Rivera as an adult. Through it all, she painted and she partied. And when Frida Kahlo, the magic-realist (some say Surrealist) painter of iconic self-portraits, saw Death coming, she greeted him as if he were a dance partner.

“I hope the exit is joyful,” Kahlo wrote in her last diary entry before her death, at age 47, in 1954. “And I hope never to return.”

She may not have wanted a comeback, but ever since feminist and Latina artists rediscovered and reclaimed her in the 1970s her seductive gaze — enigmatic as the Mona Lisa, provocative as Manet’s Olympia — has beckoned from gallery walls and mousepads and by my count seven films, including Julie Taymor’s 2002 Frida starring Salma Hayekwhich I’m showing tonight at the Philadelphia Museum of Art as part of the series Portrait of the Artist.

Do you have a favorite Frida? I think Taymor’s is the most gorgeous and evocative, but I also very much like Karen and David Crommie’s The Life and Death of Frida Kahlo (1976) and Paul LeDuc’s Frida: Natureleza Viva (1988).


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