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Frida in America

The Creative Awakening of a Great Artist

Celia Stahr

St. Martin's Press

Frida in America Download image

ISBN10: 1250113385
ISBN13: 9781250113382


400 Pages



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Mexican artist Frida Kahlo adored adventure. In November, 1930, she was thrilled to realize her dream of traveling to the United States to live in San Francisco, Detroit, and New York. Still, leaving her family and her country for the first time was monumental.

Only twenty-three and newly married to the already world-famous forty-three-year-old Diego Rivera, she was at a crossroads in her life and this new place, one filled with magnificent beauty, horrific poverty, racial tension, anti-Semitism, ethnic diversity, bland Midwestern food, and a thriving music scene, pushed Frida in unexpected directions. Shifts in her style of painting began to appear, cracks in her marriage widened, and tragedy struck, twice while she was living in Detroit.

Frida in America is the first in-depth biography of these formative years spent in Gringolandia, a place Frida couldn’t always understand. But it’s precisely her feelings of being a stranger in a strange land that fueled her creative passions and an even stronger sense of Mexican identity. With vivid detail, Frida in America recreates the pivotal journey that made Senora Rivera the world famous Frida Kahlo.


Praise for Frida in America

"It’s intriguing to encounter an artist in the act of becoming herself . . . Stahr’s chronicle of Kahlo’s breakthrough includes vivid descriptions of the scenes that inspired her."—New York Times Book Review

"Celia Stahr illuminates how not only these events but also Kahlo’s culture shock in the U.S. influenced her portraiture canon that is still so famous and treasured today."—Fortune

"I could tell [Frida Khalo's paintings] told a personal story, but I didn’t know hers. Frida in America tells that story . . . Stahr’s book is an excellent primer on the meaning of Frida’s work."—Hour Detroit

“As vivid and bold as Frida Kahlo’s painting is Celia Stahr’s consummate portrait of the artist. Stahr details her subject’s life with precision and empathy, and her probing interpretations of Kahlo’s paintings make for absorbing reading. She sets this mercurial woman among the luminaries who were part of her developing world, and does not shy away from examining her marriage to the esteemed yet egotistical Diego Rivera, as well as her politics, her psyche, her philosophies—and her sexuality. Frida Kahlo was an independent, iconic woman with magic in her hands. Stahr has brought her home to us in brilliant colors that rival Kahlo’s own.”—Linda Gray Sexton, author of Searching For Mercy Street: My Journey Back To My Mother, Anne Sexton

"Deeply researched and astutely interpreted, Celia Stahr’s biography weaves together Frida’s experiences in Gringolandia with all the vibrancy and color of the huipils the artist loved to wear."—Patricia Albers, author of Joan Mitchell, Lady Painter and Shadows, Fire, Snow: The Life of Tina Modotti

"Highly informative . . . The first major biography since Hayden Herrera's 1983 work presents the artist in all her ferocious complexity."—Kirkus Reviews

"Stahr brings new clarity to Kahlo’s life and genius for creating audacious autobiographical tableaux which pose resounding questions about history, justice, gender, spirituality, and freedom."—Booklist (starred review)

"[An] insightful debut . . . Featuring meticulous research and elegant turns of phrase, Stahr’s engrossing account provides scholarly though accessible analysis for both feminists and art lovers."—Publisher's Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt


Frida in the Wilderness

My biggest dream for a very long time has been to travel.


Frida Kahlo was a spontaneous woman who adored adventure, as long...

About the author

Celia Stahr

Celia Stahr is a professor at the University of San Francisco, where she specializes in modern American and contemporary art with an emphasis on feminist art and gender studies, as well as African and multicultural art. She holds a Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Iowa and lives in the Bay Area.

Gary Lee

Celia Stahr

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