Frida Kahlo: Unity Mural

Frida Kahlo in Front of the Unfinished Unity Panel, 1933. Photographed by Lucienne Bloch.

Frida Kahlo in Front of the Unfinished Unity Panel, 1933. Photographed by Lucienne Bloch.

“Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away.” -Frida Kahlo

“Diego Rivera is internationally acknowledged as one of the 20th century’s most important muralists and influential artists. Rivera’s style is a unique synthesis of European painting, socialist ideals, and the cultural riches of pre-Columbian indigenous Mexico.
He gave the people of the San Francisco Bay Area an extraordinary work of Pan American art and an inspiring vision of Pan-American Unity. His grand, 22′ high and 74′ long, mural, is entitled “Unión de la Expresión Artistica del Norte y Sur de este Continente” (The Marriage of the Artistic Expression of the North and of the South on this Continent). It is a sweeping synthesis of the art, religion, history, politics, and technology of the Americas that is as timely now as it was sixty years ago.

“Rivera painted this masterpiece, now commonly called Pan American Unity, in 1940 as part of the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay. He was commissioned by the organizers of the 1940 Golden Gate International Exposition to paint a large-scale fresco during the run of the fair. It was the centerpiece of Art in Action, an innovative exhibit where fairgoers could watch artists create their work.

“The mural includes three self-portraits and a portrait on his wife, artist Frida Kahlo. It is a unique combination of an artist in his prime and a critical moment in world history brought together on a monumental scale. It is arguably the most important work of art created in the Bay Area.
After the fair closed, the mural was intended to be placed in the new library of San Francisco Junior College (now City College of San Francisco). This library was part of a grand architectural plan developed by Timothy Pflueger, a prominent local architect, one of the organizers of the fair, and Rivera’s patron and friend.” -CCSF.edu

IN DEPTH:

FILM: “The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo” PBS Biography
Never before has the extraordinary life of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo been framed in relation to the full spectrum of the historical and cultural influences that created her. The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo explores the 20th-century icon who became an international sensation in the worlds of modern art and radical politics. Among those interviewed in the documentary are Carlos Fuentes and Carlos Monsivais. The film is narrated by Rita Moreno; Mexican singer Lila Downs is the voice of Frida Kahlo.“….(more)
BOOK: The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait
by Carlos Fuentes 
“Published in its entirety, Frida Kahlo's amazing illustrated journal documents the last ten years of her turbulent life. These passionate, often surprising, intimate records, kept under lock and key for some 40 years in Mexico, reveal many new dimensions in the complex personal life of this remarkable Mexican artist. The 170-page journal contains the artist's thoughts, poems, and dreams–many reflecting her stormy relationship with her husband, artist Diego Rivera–along with 70 mesmerizing watercolor illustrations. The text entries, written in Frida's round, full script in brightly colored inks, make the journal as captivating to look at as it is to read. Her writing reveals the artist's political sensibilities, recollections of her childhood, and her enormous courage in the face of more than 35 operations… (more)
FILM: Frida
Directed by Julie Taymor
"Nominated for 6 Academy Awards including Salma Hayek for Best Actress, Frida is a triumphant motion picture about an exceptional woman who lived an unforgettable life. A product of humble beginnings, Frida Kahlo (Selma Hayek) earns fame as a talented artist with a unique vision. And from her enduring relationship with her mentor and husband, Diego Rivera(Alfred Molina), to her scandalous affairs, Frida's uncomprimising personality would inspire her greatest creations! Also starring Antonia Banderas, Ashley Judd, Edward Norton, and Geoffrey Rush” (more)…

BOOK: Frida Kahlo, 1907-54: Pain and Passion
by Andres Kettenmann 
The Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) is one of the most important 20th-century painters, and one of the few Latin American artists to have achieved a global reputation. In 1983 her work was declared the property of the Mexican state.

Kahlo was one of the daughters of an immigrant German photographer and a Mexican woman of Indian origin. Her life and work were more inextricably interwoven than in the case of almost any other artist. Two events in her life were of crucial importance. When she was eighteen, a bus accident put her in hospital for a year with a smashed spinal column and fractured pelvis, and it was in her sick bed that she first started to paint. She was to suffer the effects of the accident her whole life long, and was particularly pained by her inability to have children. Then, aged twenty-one, she married the world-famous Mexican mural artist Diego Rivera.

Kahlo’s arresting pictures, most of them small-format self-portraits, express the burdens that weighed upon her soul: her unbearable physical pain, the grief that Rivera’s occasional affairs prompted, the sorrow her childlessness caused her, her homesickness when living abroad, her longing to feel that she had put down roots, and a profound loneliness. But they also declare her passionate love for her husband, her pronounced sensuousness, and her unwavering survival instinct. (more...)