Imagine an exhibition of Frida Kahlo‘s intimate drawings. Imagine them coming from museums and private collections around the world, presented as a complete group for the first time ever. Now imagine this exhibition taking place in your living room.
That is the experience being offered with the publication of “The Dreams of Frida Kahlo” (Los Sueños de Frida), a unique vision of the iconic Mexican artist’s creativity. Through its meticulous research, editing and crafting process, ARTIKA publishing has created a stunning art book showcasing Kahlo’s drawings, paintings and testimonials of her time, sharing groundbreaking insight into the painter who has become a global Pop culture sensation.
The book is displayed in a handcrafted case inspired by Kahlo’s work. It includes a Study Book featuring close to one hundred drawings, countless paintings, photographs and connoisseur texts, as well as a 34-sheet Art Book with the most prominent drawings by the world-renowned artist.
Five years in the making from more than 100 researchers, editors, craftsmen and photographers, “The Dreams of Frida Kahlo” becomes the first ARTIKA title to release in America. Limited to 2998 copies worldwide, the book showcases a unique creation emulating the artist’s own materials, tonal values and aesthetics.
“For us, it’s not a book, it’s a piece of art,” Marc Buil, Global Director of ARTIKA, said. “What we tried to do is think how Frida Kahlo would do this book if she was alive.”
“The Dreams of Frida Kahlo’” outer case provides the first notion of the extreme artisanal vision which guided this project throughout. The striking case sculpture reproduces Kahlo’s oil painting Self-portrait with Thorned Necklace and Hummingbird, 1940 (detail), which is revealed behind a veil of die-cut wooden leaves. Kahlo’s intense gaze invites readers to delve into her most personal and unknown works discovering her most intimate thoughts.
Handcrafted and bound in canvas in keeping with the picturesque character of the original and the materials which permeated her daily life, the oak case is an original design inspired by the vegetation so evocative of Frida’s works and environment. Plants such as the chamaedorea elegans, or Mexican parlor palm, provided a protective symbology to the artist, and were part of her garden in the Casa Azul (the Blue House), the Coyoacán residence where Kahlo lived and produced many works over a large portion of her life.
The Study Book, the first in-depth analysis of all known drawings by Kahlo, is illustrated by 100 drawings and a range of paintings and photos.
Through the words of the most distinguished experts and connoisseurs of Kahlo’s work, including María del Sol Argüelles San Millán, director of the Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo, Juan Rafael Coronel Rivera, journalist, poet, and grandson to Diego Rivera, and Helga Prignitz-Poda, art historian and exhibit curator, the Study Book in “Frida’s Dreams” provides an excellent introduction to Kahlo’s life and artistic production.
Prignitz-Poda, who co-authored Kahlo’s catalog raisonné, introduces the first detailed study of the artist’s works on paper. Here, “The Dreams of Frida Kahlo” moves from the realm of wonderous artful decoration into truly important scholarship. No museum exhibition or biography has previously provided this caliber of understanding into Kahlo’s drawings, many of which represent direct preparations for her more famous oil paintings.
This makes “The Dreams of Frida Kahlo” one of the most formal and best curated compilations of drawings for any artist.
Showcasing 140 pages that include 34 prints of known examples of her drawings together for the first time (plus a loose sample enclosed in the binder), the Art Book is the cornerstone of “The Dreams of Frida Kahlo.” These prints offer deep insight into Kahlo’s drawings that served as studies for oil paintings, portraits of herself, as well as those of friends and lovers, fantasies and dreams, landscapes, and still-lifes.
“There is a huge difference between the oil paintings and the drawings because the oil paintings were made to be exhibited, sometimes to be sold, but in the drawings we will find a more direct (connection to the artist); it’s like a diary,” Buil said. “You see the health problems, the issues with Diego Rivera – all the things that were happening in her life affect directly to the work so you can discover all these things through the drawings.”
Kahlo’s drawings have been printed in their exact original sizes – including uneven edges. ARTIKA matched the paper their reproductions are printed on as close to the original paper Kahlo used as possible. Drawings are complemented by phrases extracted from notes found in Frida’s diary in her own handwriting. Her drawings express her most intimate world and, at the same time, constitute her most obscure creations.
“The book allows us to know the person behind the character of Frida Kahlo,” Buil added.
Again, it must be noted, this is the first collection of all known examples of Kahlo’s drawings to be presented together.
Finding the rare original works reproduced here in person would take a lifetime of travel to museums in Mexico, the United States and Europe. ARTIKA spent years acquiring the copyrights to share the images and since many of the works also come from private collections, several of them are entirely inaccessible to the public. Even the drawings which do belong to public collections, accounting to their construction on paper and sensitivity to light, are rarely displayed.
ARTIKA photographers were dispatched around the world to shoot original photographs of each artwork represented in the book. No expense was spared on cameras, lighting or printing with leading edge technology being incorporated for each.
Additionally, to acknowledge its importance as an essential element to this edition, the Art Book has been bound in a DM oaken plywood cover featuring a cutout of the artist’s name, from which she peers behind, proof of the care taken of this title, which pays attention to even the minutest of details to safeguard the treasured selection of drawings made for “The Dreams of Frida Kahlo.”
The Art Book is supplemented with quotes from Frida’s diary, an intimate look into her most private thoughts, poems, drawings and unpublished sketches.
The Art Book contains a unique selection of 34 works in pencil, ink, sepia and watercolor that Kahlo created in notebooks, diary pages or letters she sent to her family and friends.
The Liar (El Pájaro Nalgón)
A separated folder contains a large-scale original-sized reproduction of The Liar (El Pájaro Nalgón) 1946. This sepia drawing on paper is an enigmatic mosaic of figures.
This represents one of the most spectacular drawings from the years when Kahlo’s carried on an intense love affair with Josep Bartolí.
The drawing features over forty eyes, a beautiful undine, four large birds, five wild animals and several human faces framing a glimpse of the artist’s characteristic eyebrows in the center of the piece.
Every single piece of “The Dreams of Frida Kahlo” has been exquisitely handcrafted by ARTIKA artisans in Barcelona, resulting in each copy being a true work of art itself.
Through the launch of “The Dreams of Frida Kahlo,” ARTIKA reaches two of its main goals: to offer a fresh and unique angle on one of the most relevant artists of the last century and to arrive for the first time on American soil establishing itself as a publisher specializing in limited edition artists’ books created through the most meticulous of crafting processes.
This is an exceptional opportunity to intimately discover the suggestive fragility of Kahlo’s dreams, the extraordinary strength of her art, and her passionate personal life beyond simply Kahlo’s myth and iconic image taking an exciting journey to discover her art and what life was really like for the artist.
“It’s a book that’s not made to be on a bookshelf, it’s something that has to be the center of your house,” Buil said.
Both bilingual and monolingual – all Spanish or all English – editions of “The Dreams of Frida Kahlo” are available for purchase now via ANTIKA’s website retailing for $5,500 USD.
ARTIKA is Grupo Planeta’s publishing house specializing in artist’s books: limited editions created in conjunction with great international artists and produced using painstaking artisan processes. Grupo Planeta’s works include art books from artists such as Fernando Botero, Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Van Gogh, and, now, Frida Kahlo (1907-1954).