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Frida Kahlo

October 27, 2016 | Posted by | No Comments

5 Art Films to Watch This Fall

Now that the weather is cooling down, get cozy and watch some good old films about art and artists. You are sure to learn something unexpected while watching any of these great films!

1. Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present (2012)

This feature-length documentary film follows the artist as she prepares for what may be the most important moment of her life: a major retrospective of her work at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. To be given a retrospective at one of the world’s premiere museums is, for any living artist, the most exhilarating sort of milestone. For Marina, it is far more – it is the chance to finally silence the question she has been hearing over and over again for four decades: ‘But why is this art?’ (Storyline via IMDB)

2. Hockney (2014)

Hockney sees the charismatic artist take director Randall Wright on an exclusive tour of his archives and into his studio, where he still paints seven days a week. The film, which looks back at Hockney’s formative years in the British Pop Art scene and his experience of being a gay man as the Aids crisis took hold, as well as his years working in California. (Storyline via IMDB)

3. Gerhard Richter – Painting (2011)

A documentary on the German artist that includes glimpses at his studio, which has not been seen in decades. (Storyline via IMDB)

4.  Frida (2002)

“Frida” chronicles the life Frida Kahlo shared unflinchingly and openly with Diego Rivera, as the young couple took the art world by storm. From her complex and enduring relationship with her mentor and husband to her illicit and controversial affair with Leon Trotsky, to her provocative and romantic entanglements with women, Frida Kahlo lived a bold and uncompromising life as a political, artistic, and sexual revolutionary. (Storyline via IMDB)

5. Pollock (2000)

At the end of the 1940’s, abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) is featured in Life magazine. Flashback to 1941, he’s living with his brother in a tiny apartment in New York City, drinking too much, and exhibiting an occasional painting in group shows. That’s when he meets artist Lee Krasner, who puts her career on hold to be his companion, lover, champion, wife, and, in essence, caretaker. To get him away from booze, insecurity, and the stress of city life, they move to the Hamptons where nature and sobriety help Pollock achieve a breakthrough in style: a critic praises, then Life magazine calls. But so do old demons: the end is nasty, brutish, and short. (Storyline via IMDB)

April 16, 2015 | Posted by | No Comments

Frida’s Love Letters

Frida Kahlo

Renowned and iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s secret letters to her lover Jose Bartoli are going up for auction next month.

Love letters written by Friday Kahlo and Jose Bartoli

According to Huffington Post, “Twenty five of these love letters, written between August of 1946 and November of 1949, are headed to auction on April 15 at Doyle New York. Including over 100 pages of correspondence, the letters were originally saved by Bartoli until his death in 1995, and were subsequently passed down in his family. Today, they are expected to fetch up to $120,000.

Kahlo wrote on August 29, 1946, “The atoms of my body are yours and they vibrate together so that we love each other. I want to live and be strong in order to love you with all the tenderness that you deserve, to give you everything that is good in me, so that you will not feel alone.”

Also from Huffington Post, ““The Frida Kahlo archive is remarkably important,” Rare Books Department Director Peter Costanzo explained in a statement to HuffPost. “Her letters to José Bartoli are entirely fresh and unpublished. They provide new information about one of the most important artists of the 20th century. It is an honor and a privilege to present this precious archive to the public. Its contents will surely further scholarship on Frida Kahlo and her works.”

Letter from Frida Kahlo to Jose Bartoli

Although I cannot read the letters written in Spanish (maybe you can?) they are beautiful to look at. I have always been drawn to artwork that incorporates writing or calligraphic elements. Some of these letters include sketches and drawings so I have to say that just looking at these letters pretty much sends me right over the moon. Pure beauty!


December 15, 2011 | Posted by | 2 Comments

It Takes Two

Kay Sage and Yves Tanguy on

It was on a recent trip to the Davis Museum at Wellesley College to view the collected works of Kay Sage and Yves Tanguy that I found myself in a discussion of famous artist couples. More often than not, these pairings lead to a collaboration and enrichment of creative energies, but sometimes, they lead to tragic outcomes.

Le Passage by Kay Sage on

Artists are famously known for being “lone wolves,” but when they do find a suitable mate, the ups and downs of the creative life are intertwined with the ups and downs of domestic life.

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera on

You only need to ask yourself: Where would Frida Kahlo have been without Diego Rivera, or Jackson Pollock without Lee Krasner, or Christo without Jeanne-Claude? Some might argue that these couples would have been better off without each other, and some might argue the reverse, that it was actually the conflicts that arose from two artists living and working together that brought their art to new levels.

Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner on

What can’t be denied is that these couples have left a lasting mark on the art world. Their contributions, more likely than not, were profoundly influenced by their connection – whether stormy or harmonious, direct or indirect, whether one existed in the others’ shadow, or like Sonia and Robert Delaunay, they were equal partners in productivity and involvement with the art world.

Indefinite Divisibility by Yves Tanguy on

Kay Sage and Yves Tanguy had a relatively brief time together as a couple, and they made a point never to exhibit in the same space, with the exception of a 1954 show in which their work hung in the same museum but in separate galleries. In the exhibit at the Davis, “Double Solitaire: The Surreal Worlds of Kay Sage and Yves Tanguy,” their paintings for the first time hang side by side. One can easily see how they influenced and supported each other, and that at least in this instance, two artists were better than one.

Brian Sylvester is a guest blogger on WallSpin, and an artist on Zatista.

February 2, 2010 | Posted by | No Comments

Portraiture: From the Bombast & Bluster of LBJ to the Downright Sheepish

Portraits often depict very powerful people — those who have a lot of control of the world around them. Yet they are still art. What the artist had in mind and what the subject had in mind will never be exactly the same. One example is President Lyndon B. Johnson’s official White House Portrait. Johnson chose Peter Hurd to create his image on canvas for the White House. But when Hurd showed the image to Johnson, he said it was “the ugliest thing I ever saw.” Hurd later gave it to the National Portrait Gallery.


"The ugliest thing I ever saw." -Lyndon B. Johnson

Official White House portrait of Lyndon B. Johnson by Peter Hurd

And then there’s the type of portrait that may not be well-liked in the end due to circumstances entirely beyond the artist’s control. This sculpture portrays the former leggy lady of Victoria’s Secret, Stephanie Seymour. Her husband, Peter Brant, owns it. Soon it may be all he has left of her, as they are getting divorced (messily).

The mounted (simulated) torso of Peter Brant's soon-to-be ex-wife Stephanie Seymour, by Maurizio Cattelan (1 of 3)

Artists creating self-portraits have a better time of it generally (no, we’re not going to get into Van Gogh and his poor old ear, here). Andy Warhol made hundreds of self-portraits during his lifetime. Here’s the last one he made, a few months before his death:

 Last Self-Portrait, 1986 Andy Warhol

Last Self-Portrait, 1986 Andy Warhol

Frida Kahlo portrayed herself after her divorce from Diego Rivera as two starkly and painfully separate women (that’s a portrait of Diego in the hand of the colorfully dressed Frida):

Painting Title: The Two Fridas 1939  Collection of the Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City

Painting Title: The Two Fridas 1939 Collection of the Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City

The artist Kehinde Wiley has taken classic, famous pieces of European portraiture and replaced the original subject (in this case Napoleon) with young unknown African-American men:

Napoleon Leading the Army over the Alps, 2005, by Kehinde Wiley  9' x 9'

Napoleon Leading the Army over the Alps, 2005, by Kehinde Wiley (9' x 9')

Bonaparte Crossing the Alps at Grand-Saint-Bernard by Jacques-Louis David 1801 (8.5' x 7.25')

Bonaparte Crossing the Alps at Grand-Saint-Bernard by Jacques-Louis David 1801 (8.5' x 7.25')

Portraits don’t have to be limited to human beings. Here, one of Zatista’s artists, Sam Dolman, captures a cow pausing between chews of cud:


Suspicious by Sam Dolman


Ben 1, by Rob MacInnis

The photographer Rob MacInnis created a series of images using farm animals:


Cameron, by Rob MacInnis


Keira, by Rob MacInnis