Sunday, November 8, 2015

the last book I ever read (Listening to Stone: The Art and Life of Isamu Noguchi by Hayden Herrera, excerpt eight)

from Listening to Stone: The Art and Life of Isamu Noguchi by Hayden Herrera:

The art world in Mexico was vibrant. Friendships were passionate, as were enmities. The latter were often political, given the conflicts between the various leftist ideologies, and muralists wielded not only brushes, but pistols. Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo were at the center of this bohemian world. Their home in the San Angel district of Mexico City was alive with visitors—old friends and new ones from all parts of the world. Rivera was a well-known philanderer and female travelers were often the objects of his attentions. Kahlo entertained this mixture of artists, writers, composers, and globe-trotters with festive meals at a long table decorated with flowers and Mexican folk crockery. Sometimes her pet spider monkey added to the commotion by stealing fruit or her parrot, Bonito, waddled about the tabletop and pecked at the butter. In her habitual Tehuana costumes and with flowers and ribbons decking her hair, Kahlo was a colorful presence. With a few copitas (cocktails) her wit could become outrageous and she deployed swear words as freely as a mariachi.

One day, while riding in a taxi with Noguchi, Rosa Covarrubias, wife of Vanity Fair illustrator Miguel Covarrubias, spotted Kahlo on the street and they stopped to say hello. “Rose introduced us. And somehow or other, we went dancing.” Noguchi was enchanted. Kahlo, at twenty-eight, was at the height of her beauty, and the two soon struck up a love affair. With her voluptuous lips and her dark, penetrating eyes beneath joined eyebrows, she was far more alluring to Noguchi than women of more conventional prettiness. She was passionate, affectionate, and both strong and vulnerable. She had a mordant sense of humor and loved to laugh. In spite of being a partial invalid as a result of a near-fatal bus accident in her youth, she was determined to fight pain with joy. Noguchi recalled that Kahlo loved to sing and dance. “That was her passion, you know, everything that she couldn’t do she loved to do. It made her absolutely furious to be unable to do things.” Beyond the charm of her personality and beauty, Noguchi admired Kahlo’s work and recalled that she gave him a painting, but, years later, he could not remember where it was.

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