Frida and Diego…New in Art


Reef, Catherine.  Frida & Diego: Art, Love, Life.  New York: Clarion Books, 2014.  978-0-547-82184-9.  176p.  $18.99.  Gr. 7-12.

Frieda Kahlo and Diego Rivera were two of Mexico’s most famous artists during the early to mid- 1900’s.  They were known individually for their great talent and, together, for their great passion.  Kahlo and Rivera had an unusual love; they were nontraditional and controversial.  Their marriage was constantly troubled by extramarital affairs, and they both were members of Mexico’s communist party.  Frida & Diego: Art, Love, Life follows the couple from the time young Frida first admired Rivera’s work to their deaths.

This book is a feast for the eyes.  It is printed on glossy, colorful paper and features many archival photographs of the couple and their contemporaries.  There are a number of full-color plates of both artists’ works.  The photographs and paintings help to tell the story of Frida’s and Diego’s lives.  Rivera’s artwork reflects his communist beliefs.  He painted grand murals glorifying the worker and communist party heroes.  Kahlo’s intimate paintings give voice to her love for Rivera and the intense physical pain she lived with every day (a result of a serious streetcar accident that happened when she was younger).  There are a number of resources at the end of Frida & Diego: a listing of museums and books that feature the artists’ work, full color plates of some paintings, a timeline of their lives, author’s notes, and an index.

I do have a few concerns regarding this book.  The publisher’s recommended audience, 7th grade and above, seems low.   Frida & Diego’s frank discussion of Kahlo’s abortions, the couple’s extramarital affairs, and communist politics make it a better fit for high school students.  It simply discusses too many “hot button” issues for it to be used with junior high school students in my district.  I also would have liked to have seen Kahlo’s and Rivera’s artwork integrated into the text of the book, and not as an appendix at the end.  Kahlo’s technique changed as her physical health worsened, but it is difficult to see this progression given the book’s format.  Frida and Diego: Art, Love, Life is definitely worth having in your library if you take the above points into account.

759.972 Mexican Painting         Susan Fox, Washington Jr. /Sr. High School