Herrera, Hayden

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Herrera, Hayden


Born in Boston, MA; daughter of a painter; divorced. Education: Princeton University, Ph.D., 1981.


Home—New York, NY.


Art historian. New York University, New York, NY, former teacher of Latin American art; has also worked as an art exhibit curator.


Pulitzer Prize nomination, 2004, for Arshile Gorky: His Life and Work; Guggenheim fellowship.


Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1983, reprinted, HarperPerennial (New York, NY), 2003.

Mary Frank, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 1990.

Frida Kahlo: The Paintings, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1991.

Matisse: A Portrait, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1993.

Arshile Gorky: His Life and Work, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 2003.

Joan Snyder, essay by Jenni Sorkin, introduction by Norman L. Kleeblatt, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 2005.

Author of foreword to Frida: Bringing Frida Kahlo's Life and Art to Film (illustrated screenplay), Newmarket Press (New York, NY), 2002. Contributor to books, including Joyce Kozloff, Visionary Ornament: Boston University Art Gallery, February 20-April 6, 1986, by Patricia A. Johnston, The Gallery (Boston, MA), 1985; Natural Histories: Mary Frank's Sculpture, Prints, and Drawings, DeCordova and Dana Museum (Lincoln, MA), 1988; and Views from Abroad: European Perspectives on American Art, edited by Rudi Fuchs and Adam D. Weinberg, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 1995. Contributor to periodicals, including Art in America, Art Forum, Connoisseur, and New York Times. Frida has been translated into eight languages.


The 2002 feature film Frida was based on Herrera's Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo.


Art historian Hayden Herrera is the author of two influential biographies: Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo and Arshile Gorky: His Life and Work. The former helped to establish the Mexican artist's reputation in America and was used as source material for the popular 2002 film Frida. The Gorky biography is considered the seminal work on the Armenian-born painter, whose wife was Herrera's godmother.

While a graduate student at Princeton University, Herrera visited Mexico City to see an exhibition of Kahlo's work. At the time, Kahlo was not well known in America, but Herrera decided to do her doctoral thesis on the artist. From that decision emerged Frida, a work that has since been translated into eight languages. In a Washington Post Book World review of the book, John Skirius wrote: "Herrera places Kahlo in her rightful position of prominence as a stunning, confessional portraitist." In an interview with Azteca 21, Herrera stated that she was glad to see that Kahlo has taken her place alongside her husband, Diego Rivera, as an artist of international consequence, remarking: "Frida Kahlo was unique, there is nobody like her."

Herrera chronicles another noted artist in Arshile Gorky. Unlike Kahlo, who used her harrowing life experiences as grist for her art, Gorky shrouded his childhood in mystery and purposely hid his Armenian ancestry and the desperate circumstances of his youth. After losing much of his work in a fire and suffering debilitating illnesses and injuries, Gorky committed suicide in 1948. His reputation was established only after his death. "Hayden Herrera has written the definitive biography of Arshile Gorky—lucid, persuasive, meticulous, intimate and refreshingly clear-eyed," according to Andrew Solomon in the New York Times Book Review. He added: "Herrera is able to capture the grandeur and expansiveness of his personality. Gorky was a master at constructing myths about himself, and Herrera describes those myths and recognizes their power without buying into them. She is also a capable art historian." Peter Schjeldahl, writing for the New Yorker, characterized Arshile Gorky as "a lively and consequential biography."

In addition to her work on Kahlo and Gorky, Herrera has authored books on Matisse, Mary Frank, and Joan Snyder, and has contributed to exhibition monographs and helped to mount exhibitions at museums in the United States and Europe.



American Scholar, autumn, 2003, Erin Hogan, review of Arshile Gorky: His Life and Work, p. 148.

Art Journal, spring, 2005, Kim S. Theriault, review of Arshile Gorky, p. 115.

Arts in America, January, 2004, Sue Taylor, review of Arshile Gorky, p. 25.

Booklist, February 15, 2003, Mary McKay, review of Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo, p. 1093; June 1, 2003, Donna Seaman, review of Arshile Gorky, p. 1735; November 1, 2005, Donna Seaman, review of Joan Snyder, p. 18.

Chicago Tribune, July 9, 2003, Mary Daniels, "‘Peculiar’ Art Stirs Historian," p. 8.

Entertainment Weekly, October 1, 1993, Suzanne Ruta, review of Matisse: A Portrait, p. 51.

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2003, review of Arshile Gorky, p. 729.

Library Journal, October 15, 2002, Rachel Collins, review of Frida: Bringing Frida Kahlo's Life and Art to Film, p. 127; September 1, 2003, Douglas F. Smith, review of Arshile Gorky, p. 162; January 1, 2006, Mirela Roncevic, review of Joan Snyder, p. 115.

New Yorker, September 8, 2003, Peter Schjeldahl, "Self-Made Man," review of Arshile Gorky, p. 94.

New York Times, August 20, 2003, Roberta Smith, "With Denial, Mendacity, and Suicide, a Magnet for Biographers," review of Arshile Gorky, p. E8.

New York Times Book Review, September 28, 2003, Andrew Solomon, "The Picasso of Washington Square," p. 23.

Publishers Weekly, September 21, 1990, Genevieve Suttaford, review of Mary Frank, p. 59; July 26, 1993, review of Matisse, p. 50; May 5, 2003, review of Arshile Gorky, p. 209.

School Library Journal, December, 2002, Adriana Lopez, review of Frida, p. S53.

Time, March 28, 1983, R.Z. Sheppard, "Frida," p. 68.

Washington Post Book World, April 17, 1983, John Skirius, "Feminism and the Fine Art of Politics," p. 3.


Azteca 21,http://www.azteca21.com/ (April 14, 2004), "The Good News," interview with Hayden Herrera.

Bloomsbury Web site,http://www.bloomsbury.com/ (November 28, 2006), brief biography of Hayden Herrera.

Brooklyn Rail,http://www.thebrooklynrail.org/ (November 28, 2006), Deirdre Swords, review of Arshile Gorky.

California State University at Fresno Web site,http://armenianstudies.csufresno.edu/ (November 28, 2006), Amy Stechler, interview with Hayden Herrera.

Haber Arts Online,http://www.haberarts.com/ (November 28, 2006), John Haber, "Motherless Child," review of Arshile Gorky.

New Market Press,http://www.newmarketpress.com/ (November 28, 2006), brief biography of Hayden Herrera.

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