While I own a few biographies about Frida, I decided to see what the local Austin library had to offer while gathering swap inspiration for the Viva La Vida Swap. I haven't had a library card since I lived in Boston and I don't know exactly why but I am so impressed with the Austin library. I think because the library in my hometown had such a crappy selection that I am always amazed when I visit a library that has actual current books.
I was really pleased with how many Frida books they had and decided to check out a few that were photo heavy since I already had a few biographies at home. I ended up checking out three books:
The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self Portrait
Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress: Frida's Wardrobe- Fashion from the Museo Frida Kahlo
I Will Never Forget You... Frida Kahlo to Nikolas Murray: Unpublished Photographs and Letters
1. The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self Portrait
Her diary was inspiring and definitely one of the books I checked out that I want to purchase for my own collection. I found out her diary had been published in high school, but hadn't yet had to chance to read through it. It is a literally an exact page for page copy of her personal diary which is what I was really hoping for.
Seeing her pen strokes, her scribbles, her notes...it was really something. My Spanish is only so so and some of the text is scribbled and hard to read, but there are translations and some explanations/context in the back which is awesome. I used to keep an art journal in college and I stopped after a while for various reasons. A little later I started blogging here which has also been a great release, but it was definitely inspiring me to start journaling again. It's not really fair to judge it or rate it considering it's a diary and wasn't intended for anyone's benefit but Frida's, but that's what makes it so special. It feels like a little piece of her thoughts.
2. Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress: Frida's Wardrobe- Fashion from the Museo Frida Kahlo
This is one that made it gasp when I found it on the shelves. I've seen a few photos of some of her clothing online, but I didn't realize there was a whole book of photographs of her clothing that was unlocked from her wardrobe at Casa Azul. Considering I can't afford a trip there anytime soon, this book gave me a little piece of the collection
The book has information from the museum director, the people who worked on restoring some of her clothing, and lots of cultural context and information about her clothing and the history of significance of Tehuana dresses. Several photographs show the outfits artfully staged throughout the museum which almost makes you feel like you're looking at a portrait of a ghost. At the time of this book's publishing, they hadn't quite restored the entire collection yet so I hope one day the whole collection is published. This book is REALLY expensive so I should...you know...try not to spill coffee all over it. I have to say, if they ever finish repairing and photographing her entire wardrobe, I would totally spend the money on that.
3. I Will Never Forget You... Frida Kahlo to Nikolas Muray: Unpublished Photographs and Letters
Nikolas Muray captured some of the most well known photos of Frida Kahlo including the portrait that was used for the cover of Vogue, but as someone who has looked at a A LOT of Frida stuff I love seeing the less popular photos. While her most famous photos are so wide spread for a reason, whenever I see something from Frida I've never seen before it gives me chills. This book had a few pictures that were new to me.
This book is great, but wasn't a MUST HAVE for me to run out and purchase. The photos are certainly incredible, but because they are some of her most famous photos it didn't feel as intimate. That probably stems from own desire to know her better as my knowledge of her life expands. There was also as a lot of information about Nikolas Muray which is understandable considering he was the photographer, but was less interesting to me. There were also some full copies of letters written from Frida to Muray which was neat to see Frida's personality and even some of her typos in English. While I'm not rushing out to throw down $25 on it, it was still an enjoyable browse and recommend checking it out at your local library if you can.
Stay inspired everyone!