The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
From her perspective as a foreigner, Gisèle Freund regarded Frida Kahlo’s painting as an interpretation not only of the Mexican people, both their problems and aspirations, but also of the problems of all the peoples on the earth. Freund believed that an artist’s value should not be based on the number of works produced, but rather in the artist’s capacity to capture the time in which he/she lived. In this sense Kahlo could not be criticized for focusing her work on herself. From this perspective, an artist can only paint from her own experience.
Although Gisèle Freund (1912–2000) shared a gendered viewpoint with Kahlo, as a foreigner she maintained a certain biased attitude toward Mexican artworks. In a sense, the French-German photographer arrived in Mexico influenced by the art gaze of Fernando Gamboa, the principal promoter of Mexican art. Around 1949 Gamboa and Diego Rivera (1886–1957) invited her to Mexico, a period during which she took photographs of Frida Kahlo (1907–1954). The painter’s image produced strange fascination among her contemporaries, indeed Freund was the subject of innumerable works by some of the most recognized photographers of the era: Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Héctor García, Bernice Kolko, Imogen Cunningham, and Nickolas Muray, among others.
The importance of this document stems from the fact that Gisèle Freund took photographs of the Mexican art scene from a foreigner’s approach and these images have been used by several historiographers to interpret Mexican art.