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.
Paul Westheim believes that, as an artist, Frida Kahlo belongs to an alternative trend, and he describes her as a “outstanding painter.” The critic emphasizes Kahlo’s pictorial qualities, a “subtle and expressive” technique, a palette “rich in gradations” that offers the eye a sensual joy. In contrast to other critics, Westheim is emphatic that the painter does not belong to any particular school or current, placing her instead at the margin of any such discussion. Whatever touch she possesses of surrealism, says the author, does not come from books, but rather her own gist and her very individual way of living in the world.
The arrival of diverse scholars of art in Mexico during World War II greatly enriched the analysis of the visual arts in the country because it established different levels of understanding and approaches to Mexico’s artistic production. The intellectual training of these exiled individuals nourished the Mexican cultural environment and made possible the establishment of a fruitful dialogue among the country’s critics. Paul Westheim (1886-1963)—a polymath capable of understanding both pre-Hispanic and twentieth-century art—identified links, continuities, and processes throughout the history of Mexican art. His education allowed him to provide rich interpretations of Frida Kahlo’s (1907–1954) production, in which he emphasized elements such as the use of color and the quality of the composition, placing the value of the artwork’s form before the personal life of the painter.
The publication México en la Cultura can be understood as the project of a group of elite intellectuals that included Frida Kahlo. The artist received this homage, implying her definitive stature as a “cultural heroine,” just a few years before her death.
In Paul Westheim’s best-known work La calavera [The Skull] (1953), he delved into the meaning of death within Mexican culture. It was translated by his wife, Mariana Frenk-Westheim (1898–2004).