Pressure Play: Frida Kahlo + her contemporaries

While Frida Kahlo may be one of Mexico’s best-known artists today, she wasn’t the only woman to blaze a lasting career in that 20th century art world. Tufts University professor Adriana Zavala gave a fascinating lecture earlier this week on Kahlo and two of her most successful contemporaries: the painter María Izquierdo and the intrepid photographer Lola Álvarez Bravo.

All three came of age during Mexico’s 1910 Revolution and were shaped by the tumultuous world wars and revolutions of the ensuing decades. They also had storied private lives. Kahlo, of course, was married to Mexican muralist Diego Rivera; Izquierdo had an affair with another important Mexican painter, Rufino Tamayo; and Lola was the first wife of famed photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo.Powerful mate/mentors, however, can only partially explain their extraordinary success in a male-dominated art world.

“These women were scrappy,” Zavala aptly said during her lecture titled “Pressure from the Margins.”

Watch our interview with Zavala recorded March 13 at the Mexican Cultural Institute.

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