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Frida Kahlo: An Illustrated Biography

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Step into the world of one of history's most celebrated artists and feminist icons: Frida Kahlo. This beautifully illustrated biography is full of colorful details that illuminate the woman behind the artwork, including excerpts from Kahlo's personal letters and diaries on her childhood dreams of becoming a doctor, the accident that changed the course of her life, and her Step into the world of one of history's most celebrated artists and feminist icons: Frida Kahlo. This beautifully illustrated biography is full of colorful details that illuminate the woman behind the artwork, including excerpts from Kahlo's personal letters and diaries on her childhood dreams of becoming a doctor, the accident that changed the course of her life, and her love affairs with famous artists. Featuring handwritten text alongside lovely illustrations in a charming case with foil stamping and debossed details, Library of Luminaries: Frida Kahlo provides a captivating window into the vibrant life, work, and creative vision of the beloved Mexican artist.


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Step into the world of one of history's most celebrated artists and feminist icons: Frida Kahlo. This beautifully illustrated biography is full of colorful details that illuminate the woman behind the artwork, including excerpts from Kahlo's personal letters and diaries on her childhood dreams of becoming a doctor, the accident that changed the course of her life, and her Step into the world of one of history's most celebrated artists and feminist icons: Frida Kahlo. This beautifully illustrated biography is full of colorful details that illuminate the woman behind the artwork, including excerpts from Kahlo's personal letters and diaries on her childhood dreams of becoming a doctor, the accident that changed the course of her life, and her love affairs with famous artists. Featuring handwritten text alongside lovely illustrations in a charming case with foil stamping and debossed details, Library of Luminaries: Frida Kahlo provides a captivating window into the vibrant life, work, and creative vision of the beloved Mexican artist.

30 review for Frida Kahlo: An Illustrated Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Salma Mattar

    And that's how i fell in love with a lady called Frida Kahlo 💖

  2. 4 out of 5

    Reading_ Tam_ Ishly

    *Scandalous and not recommended for kids* 'I paint myself because I am so often alone, because I am the subject I know best.' Frida Kahlo This is my quote. I am loving this series so much! I am so hapoy I got four of these illustrated biographies. I enjoyed this one as well. This one is so inspiring! Inspite of all the difficulties and challenges, she won in the end. I so loved the illustrations and the short, meaningful sentences and quotes so much!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Monika

    Twinkle Khanna recommended and I straightaway jumped into "Frida Kahlo: An Illustrated Biography" by Zena Alkayat and Nina Cosford. It is a wonderful story of her life where she establishes herself as the greatest painter of her time despite all physical and emotional barriers. I wanted it to be also about her emotions, not just works but overall, I loved reading. It will not take more than twenty minutes to read. It is a feel-good story of her life that is bound to bring smiles to your faces.

  4. 5 out of 5

    dianne

    “The art of Frida Kahlo is a ribbon around a bomb.” Andre Breton (who was in love with her but, alas, she found him pompous, pretentious) This shiny bio-ette of Frida caught my eye on my way out of the library. Filled with engaging colors and bits of information - it is not a real biography, rather a snack-sized glittery pretaste - maybe to see if this is something you’d like to pursue? Born into wealth she caught polio as a child leaving her with leg deformities. Despite that, she played sports “The art of Frida Kahlo is a ribbon around a bomb.” Andre Breton (who was in love with her but, alas, she found him pompous, pretentious) This shiny bio-ette of Frida caught my eye on my way out of the library. Filled with engaging colors and bits of information - it is not a real biography, rather a snack-sized glittery pretaste - maybe to see if this is something you’d like to pursue? Born into wealth she caught polio as a child leaving her with leg deformities. Despite that, she played sports and continued to be physically active. She did well academically & wanted to study medicine. Unfortunately she was lanced from the thorax to the pelvis when a bus hit a trolley before she finished school - putting her, her studies, & her romance at bedrest for years. That’s when she began to draw and paint. Onward to the troubled weird power trip with Diego for the rest of her life - providing emotional pain to match her ongoing physical pain. Pain she painted so clearly in masterpieces such as “Without Hope” and “The Broken Column”; intense and tortured depictions of her suffering. Apparently, even through the miserable failing last years, she was charming and ebullient except at the very end. Her moods became erratic and her determination to live sometimes faltered. But her last painting (a still life of watermelons) was signed with the words “viva la vida” One groovy fact-let was that she always dressed like the matriarchal Tehuana women of southern Mexico, in ruffled skirts and embroidered blouses. Simply dazzling.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nouruddine

    This biography is so heartbreaking. I dropped tears after finishing it. How much suffering! I once wrote: “why is Frida beautiful? 'cuz she painted flowers on the pain.” *** *** This biography is so heartbreaking. I dropped tears after finishing it. How much suffering! I once wrote: “why is Frida beautiful? 'cuz she painted flowers on the pain.” *** ***

  6. 5 out of 5

    Luciana

    I really enjoy the Library of Luminaries illustrated biographies. I had never heard of Frida Kahlo until I read this biography. I loved her determination & her creative flair for life. After reading this biography, it encouraged me to look at her art & read more about her. I really enjoy the Library of Luminaries illustrated biographies. I had never heard of Frida Kahlo until I read this biography. I loved her determination & her creative flair for life. After reading this biography, it encouraged me to look at her art & read more about her.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Borders

    Synopsis: Frida Kahlo and Jane Austen are two of the four books in a series done by Chronicle Books. The series spotlights different famous women and chronicles their lives in a simplistic format. The text is accompanied by whimsical illustrations. The books are small–I would say about as tall and as wide as a slice of bread and they start from birth and continue on until death. My thoughts: I first saw these books a few months ago and loved the idea of an easy to digest biography with fun illustra Synopsis: Frida Kahlo and Jane Austen are two of the four books in a series done by Chronicle Books. The series spotlights different famous women and chronicles their lives in a simplistic format. The text is accompanied by whimsical illustrations. The books are small–I would say about as tall and as wide as a slice of bread and they start from birth and continue on until death. My thoughts: I first saw these books a few months ago and loved the idea of an easy to digest biography with fun illustrations. I put in a request with my library that they purchase at least one or two (my library’s consortium didn’t own a single copy, which truthfully I have never had to request that they purchase a book before as they have always had at least one copy of what I’m looking for in the consortium). Much to my delight, my library purchased all four books. And apparently they are popular, as three were immediately checked out. I started with Frida Kahlo, as it was the only one my library had. Admittedly, I knew nothing about Kahlo but I was blown away by her story. I loved learning about her childhood and her marital circumstances. I think that the bright, cultural clothes and furnishings she surrounded herself with really lent themselves to the format of an illustrated biography. The book took me less than 20 minutes to read cover to cover, but I would certainly love to read more about Kahlo in the future. I eventually got my hands on Jane Austen and truthfully, it just wasn’t as vibrant to me as Kahlo’s. I enjoyed reading it, and Alkayat included excerpts from Jane’s letters, as well as those of her sister Cassandra, which really added to the book. Maybe had I gone in not knowing as much about Jane, and her books, I would have gotten more out of Jane Austen. I love this series and definitely plan on reading the other two books (Virginia Wolf and Coco Chanel). I think these would be fantastic gifts and I also think they would be great additions to a children’s library, as the pictures are exciting and the biographies are easily digestible.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tuscany Bernier

    I loved this book! It really brings the biography of Frida to life in all the best ways. I liked how they showed little things like what her daily attire would look like and a kitchen similar to hers. It really helped place me in her life. The only thing I would have liked to see is more of her actual artwork in the book. It would describe a piece of hers but not show it. I feel like her life is better understood in conjunction with her artwork since her work was an extension of her lifestyle an I loved this book! It really brings the biography of Frida to life in all the best ways. I liked how they showed little things like what her daily attire would look like and a kitchen similar to hers. It really helped place me in her life. The only thing I would have liked to see is more of her actual artwork in the book. It would describe a piece of hers but not show it. I feel like her life is better understood in conjunction with her artwork since her work was an extension of her lifestyle and emotions.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Huether

    Frieda Kahlo was born in 1906 in Coyoacan Mexico. Her mother was Mexican and her father Hungarian. Frieda was influenced by her father, a painter and a photographer. An accident changed her dreams of becoming a doctor. Her artwork was full of color and her life was vibrant. The book was beautifully illustrated.

  10. 5 out of 5

    mariam ✿

    this is the perfect/beautiful short biography for learning a great deal about Frida Kahlo, an amazing talented, and adventurous artist! Her life is exciting and full of turmoil, setbacks, and anticipation, horribly painful injuries, painting masterpieces, and relationships. Her style is inspiring, bold, and colorful, just like her life and personality.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sonic

    If you make an illustrated biography about an amazing artist, you had better hope that your illustration does not suck. I am sorry. That is harsh, ... but please note I did not say that this illustration sucks, I only implied it. :) Most art might look like trash next to Frida Kahlo's wondrous art. I did enjoy the conciseness of this biography. It ends with this quote: "It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light." ~ Frida Kahlo +++

  12. 4 out of 5

    Krystal Lane

    Inspiring I really enjoyed this book. The artwork was beautiful and it told a story of a woman that I think every person should read and know about. It was also written and produced in a way that I think even children could absorb easily. I now want to go out and read further about Frida.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Story Circle Book Reviews

    Frida Kahlo: An Illustrated Biography is a lovely little book to hold in one's hands with its perfect size, hard covers and no dust jacket to slip off. Frida Kahlo's name is against a background of gold which is fitting as the book is from the Library of Luminaries series. Frida Kahlo is one of the world's most celebrated artists and much has been written about her. For her fans, there can never be too much. Author Zena Alkayat "has taken care to be accurate and faithful to the truth throughout t Frida Kahlo: An Illustrated Biography is a lovely little book to hold in one's hands with its perfect size, hard covers and no dust jacket to slip off. Frida Kahlo's name is against a background of gold which is fitting as the book is from the Library of Luminaries series. Frida Kahlo is one of the world's most celebrated artists and much has been written about her. For her fans, there can never be too much. Author Zena Alkayat "has taken care to be accurate and faithful to the truth throughout this book," she says in the Acknowledgments. She is grateful for "the evocative and brilliantly illuminating Frida: The Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera" as well as The Diary of Frida Kahlo by Christina Burrus. The book begins with a quote from Kahlo: "I paint myself because I am so often alone, because I am the subject I know best." Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo Y Calderon was born on July 6, 1907 in the barrio of Coyoacan in Mexico. She contracted polio at the age of six and after nine months confined to her room, took up sports to regain her strength. She belonged to a mischievous clique at school called the Cachuchas. It was at school that she met her future husband Diego Rivera who was painting a mural in the auditorium. On September 17, 1925, Kahlo was in a bus collision with her boyfriend Alejandro. As the author writes: "The accident transformed Frida. It clipped her wings and subjected her to a lifetime of pain." Despite the pain and many surgeries including the amputation of a leg, Kahlo painted herself and her life. Nina Cosford illustrated the book throughout, not with Kahlo's paintings but with the familiar surroundings of Frida Kahlo's life. A two-page spread illustrates Kahlo's room with the artist propped up in bed, painting. She painted her first self-portrait there using a mirror attached to the canopy of her bed. When she sought to make a living from her art making, Kahlo asked for a professional evaluation of her work from Diego Rivera. They married on August 21, 1929 when she was twenty-two and he was forty-two. Kahlo dressed in traditional costumes inspired by "matriarchal Tehuana women" from south Mexico even while in the United States where Rivera was painting murals and Kahlo continued to paint. Items from her wardrobe are illustrated and another illustration shows her hair in braids decorated with flowers and combs. When Kahlo and Rivera divorced, she moved into her family home, La Casa Azul (The Blue House) where the kitchen was decorated in traditional Mexican style. Nina Cosford has drawn an illustration of the exterior of La Casa Azul, the kitchen and Kahlo's many pets including Fulang-Chang, a spider monkey, and Granizo, a fawn. Kahlo and Rivera remarried on December 8, 1940 and Rivera moved into La Casa Azul. As the author says, Kahlo produced some of her best work during the 1940s and during that time her health was declining. One of the illustrations shows her strength of spirit: Kahlo in a four-poster bed at her one-woman exhibition in spring 1953 when she was unable to walk on opening day. It is this drive and vigor that draw many of us to reading about Kahlo's life and appreciating her paintings which nowadays appear in many forms. Frida Kahlo died at the age of forty-seven on July 13, 1954. The book is a beautiful tribute to her vibrant life and spirit. by Mary Ann Moore for Story Circle Book Reviews reviewing books by, for, and about women

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    This book is part of a new “Library of Luminaries” series by Chronicle Books celebrating famous women in books that contain abridged biographies of the lives of the women featured.   Frida Kahlo, one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, is enjoying something of a cult status now, especially among those of Mexican heritage. Her embrace of Mexico’s indigenous roots and her dedication to social and political reform in Mexico, combined with her colorful clothing, colorful sex lif This book is part of a new “Library of Luminaries” series by Chronicle Books celebrating famous women in books that contain abridged biographies of the lives of the women featured.   Frida Kahlo, one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, is enjoying something of a cult status now, especially among those of Mexican heritage. Her embrace of Mexico’s indigenous roots and her dedication to social and political reform in Mexico, combined with her colorful clothing, colorful sex life, and bright paintings, have made her a favorite daughter of Mexico. This small but richly informative book tells Kahlo’s life story, from her birth as Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón on July 6, 1907, to her death at the age of 47. The book pays particular attention to the illnesses and injuries which plagued Kahlo’s life, and which were so central to her life and career. At six, she fell ill with polio. At eighteen, she was nearly killed in a bus accident. Alkayat writes: “A passenger’s package of gold dust burst during the accident and Frida’s clothes were thrown off in the collision. She lay on the ground covered in blood and shimmering with gold. Her body was pierced, fractured, and crushed.” The accident left her bedridden for a long period, during which time she began to paint. But she also was left with a lifetime of pain. Nevertheless, she continued to create works of art, and to become active politically. Alkayat notes that “Frida had an outward vitality and fierce connectedness with life, but her paintings told a different story.” They showed, either symbolically or thematically, “intense and tortured depictions of her suffering.” In her brief lifetime she created 143 paintings, 55 of which are self-portraits. She also managed to have love affairs with a number of movers and shakers of the time, including Diego Rivera (whom she married when she was 22 and he was 42), American sculptor Isamu Noguchi, Hungarian born photographer Nickolas Muray, Communist leader Leon Trotsky, and jazz icon Josephine Baker. Her work has been called surrealist because of its self-reflective style and emphasis on the subconscious. This she combined with Mexican folk art which helped distinguish her work. During her lifetime, she sold relatively few paintings, but today her works fetch enormous prices at auction. In 2000, a 1929 self-portrait sold for more than $5 million. And, of course, she has become an important addition to the observation of Dia de los Muertos. The watercolor illustrations by Nina Cosford pay tribute to Kahlo’s style, and yet are somewhat whimsical and suitable to the format of the book. Evaluation: This small book is packed with interesting information, and will inspire readers to find out more about someone who continues to fascinate us as a woman, artist, and activist.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    There are many reasons why Frida Kahlo continues to fascinate viewers nearly 65 years after her death, including her brilliant mind, unique style, and evocative paintings. The unflinching honesty reflected in her life and work is inspiring, especially when contrasted with today’s heavily edited, social media driven environment. Zena Alkayat’s research is impressive, and even long-time Kahlo fans will find new tidbits of information. Nina Cosford’s lovely illustrations pair well with Alkayat’s gr There are many reasons why Frida Kahlo continues to fascinate viewers nearly 65 years after her death, including her brilliant mind, unique style, and evocative paintings. The unflinching honesty reflected in her life and work is inspiring, especially when contrasted with today’s heavily edited, social media driven environment. Zena Alkayat’s research is impressive, and even long-time Kahlo fans will find new tidbits of information. Nina Cosford’s lovely illustrations pair well with Alkayat’s gracefully written text.

  16. 4 out of 5

    John Velo

    3.5 ✨ A really quick and fun way to get to know the basics about Frida Kahlo’s life. It has very colorful, vivid pictures as visualization as well. For the longest time, I have been intrigued about her art but did not know the person behind the canvas. I glad I picked this book up and know more about Frida Kahlo now. Her life was not the happiest, but she is still my inspiration and, I love her aesthetic. The next time I look at a Frida Kahlo painting, I will think about this quote she once told: “ 3.5 ✨ A really quick and fun way to get to know the basics about Frida Kahlo’s life. It has very colorful, vivid pictures as visualization as well. For the longest time, I have been intrigued about her art but did not know the person behind the canvas. I glad I picked this book up and know more about Frida Kahlo now. Her life was not the happiest, but she is still my inspiration and, I love her aesthetic. The next time I look at a Frida Kahlo painting, I will think about this quote she once told: “It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light.”

  17. 5 out of 5

    Travis

    2.5 - An 0therwise charming book. All my stars go out to the lovely little paintings. Target audience was wildly unclear. The art may be distracting enough but the text came off as some sort of displaced bits of seemingly harmless trivia but are actually quite salacious. The text clearly did Frida nor the art justice. I want to hate it because really, who fucks up an interesting character or such pretty artistic depictions. I will write this book down. Even if it’s for the sake of having a portf 2.5 - An 0therwise charming book. All my stars go out to the lovely little paintings. Target audience was wildly unclear. The art may be distracting enough but the text came off as some sort of displaced bits of seemingly harmless trivia but are actually quite salacious. The text clearly did Frida nor the art justice. I want to hate it because really, who fucks up an interesting character or such pretty artistic depictions. I will write this book down. Even if it’s for the sake of having a portfolio filler.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Susannah

    This is a short, easily digestible biography about Frida Kahlo's life. It is accompanied by bright, simple illustrations to illuminate the text. I was already familiar with the major events of Kahlo's life, but it was still nice to read this summary, which can be read in one sitting. Although briefly put, the story is still touching, and I learnt some things about her that I did not know before.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kaila

    a beautifully illustrated biography

  20. 5 out of 5

    Annastassha Dodwell

    Magical illustrations

  21. 5 out of 5

    Zulekha Saqib

    such a beautiful book it is.. it gives an insightful overview of Kahlo's life, matched perfectly with vibrant watercolour illustrations that reflect Kahlo's personality!!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Thalia

    Frida is one of my all-time favorites and I felt that although this was short, it was whimsical, accurate, and got close to doing her justice.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Allie

    Such a beautiful book. Frida lived a life full of pain and passion that you can see in her artwork, which is why she is thought of as one of the most well-known female artists of all time.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jade

    beautiful illustrations that i would like to look at forever and tells a great overview of the life of a wonderful woman that i'm pleased to have learnt about

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alexis

    Super quick read, cute illustrations but no actual images of Frida's work. There could have been more details. Regardless, if you want a quick, bite sized overview of Frida's life here is it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    Beautiful little book. Wish it would have shown Frida’s art. Leaves me wanting to know more about the artist’s life.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rogene Carter

    Absolutely mesmerizing and beautifully illustrated and told.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tia

    This was a very short, illustrated book. I thought it was a biography but this was fine too, I guess.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    Gorgeous illustrations and beautiful hardback cover. Informative short telling of her story. Lovely book!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Frida Kahlo was such a beautiful soul, and this book did a great job bringing that beauty to a medium accessible to a younger audience. I loved the drawings of Frida’s clothes and the descriptions of her traditional Mexican style. Interspersed throughout were also quotes and art by Kahlo. Wonderfully designed. Would be a great book to own.

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