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Perhaps no director was better suit-
ed to bring those extremes to the
screen. Kahlo and Taymor "share a
visual sensibility that combines fan-
tastical imagery with the macabre,"
said Frida producer Jay Polstein.
suffered while skirting a
live volcano. (An
impromptu surgery —
sans anesthesia — saved
her leg from gangrene).
She also survived a
Kahlo-like bus crash
that paralyzed one of
her performers and
The painter and the director also
carved her chin and lip
share varying degrees of Jewish her-
Upon returning to
Kahlo's father, Wilhelm, was a
the States, Taymor
German-born Hungarian Jew who
Director Julie Taymor and Salma Hayek behind the
immersed herself in
scenes of "Frida."
immigrated to Mexico in 1891,
New York experimental
changed his first name to Guillermo
theater and met her life
she met Olmedo, who was Rivera's
and married Kahlo's Catholic mother. partner, the composer Elliot
mistress before he fell madly in love
He became a famous photographer of Goldenthal; at a performance of The
Kahlo in 1928.
historical monuments and reportedly
ushered me into her private
gave his favorite daughter her first set
"Someone told him he'd like my
quarters and it was like being in Miss
work because it was as grotesque as
Havisham's presence," Taymor said,
Taymor's Russian grandfather also
his," Taymor said with a laugh. The
changed his name when he immigrat- couple has since collaborated on proj- referring to the unmarried woman in
Charles Dickens' Great Expectations.
ed to America (from Teitelbaum to an ects from the Obie-winning .J uan
Anglicized version of tamar, which
"She was around 90 but she had
Darien to Frida.
these incredible fake eyelashes and
means date tree in Hebrew), although
his family remained Jewish.
this thick makeup and it was clear
she didn't like Frida one bit."
Julie Taymor grew up in a Reform
After her "audience" with Olmedo,
household in Newton, Mass., where
While Goldenthal studied Mexican
realized how far she had
she enjoyed the beauty of ritual but
folk music to write Frida's score,
her impressions at that
abhorred the materialism she saw in
Taymor read Hayden Herrera's 1983
Kahlo exhibition in Oaxaca years ago.
the bar and bat mitzvah culture. Her
Kahlo biography and visited sites
early years were as dramatic as
"The mixture of beauty, the morbid
such as the cobalt blue house where
Kahlo's: At 16, she convinced her
and the sardonic wink-twink of the eye
the artist had lived in Coyoacan,
mother, a political activist, and her
are what make Frida's paintings so com-
father, a Harvard Medical School
and provocative," she said. CI
Only after the exhausting 2001
professor, to let her study mime in
production wrapped did Taymor visit
the Dolores Olmedo Patino Museum
In her 20s, Taymor founded a the-
— home to the world's largest Kahlo
Frida is scheduled to open Friday,
ater troupe in Indonesia, where she
and Rivera collection — and felt she
Nov. 8 at the Maple Art Theatre
lived for four years while enduring
had stepped into her own movie. On
in Bloomfield Township.
floods, malaria and a bone-deep injury palacial grounds overrun by peacocks,
English words in conversation and acted as if she was
having problems understanding the language."
Both the Wardell Hotel and the Henry Ford dinner
incidents were considered for inclusion in the movie,
Frida, but did not make the final script.
Kahlo was not in Michigan during her husband's
entire 11-month stay, from April 1932-March 1933,
because of the death of her mother, Matilde
Calderun, the daughter of a Spanish mother and
Mexican-Indian father who had Frida and Frida's
three siblings baptized Catholic. Kahlo returned to
Mexico for the funeral.
When Frida suffered a miscarriage, she spent a
week at Henry Ford Hospital and later conveyed her
tragic experiences through images completed in
Detroit. The artist, sometimes using studio space at
the DIA, put herself in the center of her works.
"Henry Ford Hospital," oil on sheet metal, shows
Frida in a hospital bed with an industrial skyline in
the background and a fetus and body parts scattered
throughout. "Friday and the Abortion," a lithograph,
also has the artist, a fetus and body parts. I-1
of total 'rood .6X11
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The real Frida Kahlo at work: She continued her painting
while with her husband in Detroit.