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Herrera, Hayden

    Image Credit: Arts to Hearts Project

    Full Name: Herrera, Hayden

    Other Names:

    • Hayden Philips

    Gender: female

    Date Born: 1940

    Place Born: Boston, Suffolk, MA, USA

    Home Country/ies: United States

    Subject Area(s): Latin American and Modern (style or period)


    Art historian; author of biographies on artists Frida Kahlo and Arshile Gorky. Hayden Phillips was born in Boston, the daughter of Elizabeth and John Phillips and the grand niece of William Phillips (1878-1968) Ambassador of Italy from 1917-1941. She attended North Country School and Putney School in Vermont. During her senior year, she traveled abroad with her mother to France, attending American Community School of Paris. She entered Radcliffe college, but left to pursue painting. In 1958, Herrera was a member of the Junior Assembly, a group in charge of debutante balls in New York. In 1961, Philips married a Guatemalan French, Phillip Herrera, who graduated magna cum laude at Harvard in 1956, from a prominent family in Guatemalan history. Hayden Herrera graduated with a BA from Barnard College in 1964 continuing for her MA at Hunter College. As a graduate student, she visited Mexico City to witness an exhibition of Frida Kahlo’s work.

    Herrera wrote an article titled Frida Kahlo in 1976 which led to a publishing agency requesting a full book. She received her Ph.D. from City University of New York, writing a Kahlo for her thesis, in 1981. Herrera published a form of her thesis as 1983 Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo, to resounding success. Her next book, Mary Frank, appeared in 1990 and Matisse: A Portrait in 1993. In 1996, Herrera was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship award in the field of biography. Herrera later published her 2003 book Arshile Gorky: His Life and Work, later nominated for a Pulitzer. In 2005, Herrera published Joan Snyder. In 2015, Herrera published Listening to Stone: The Art and Life of Isamu Noguchi, later receiving the Book Award for biography for this work. After her divorce, she married Desmond Heath (b. 1931), a British New York psychiatrist. Herrera continues to write articles and reviews for Art in America, Art Forum, Connoisseur, and the New York Times. She teaches Latin American art at NYU and art history at the School of Visual Arts in New York.

    Herrera’s Kahlo book was the inspiration for Julie Taymor’s 2002 film Frida.

    Selected Bibliography

    • [dissertation:] Frida Kahlo: her Life, her Art. 1981
    • Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo. Harper & Row, 1983.
    • Mary Frank. Harry N. Abrams, 1990.
    • Frida Kahlo: Paintings. HarperCollins, 1991.
    • Arshile Gorky: His Life and Work. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003.
    • Joan Snyder. Harry N. Abrams, 2005.
    • Listening to Stone: The Art and Life of Isamu Noguchi. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015.


    Walker Art Center. “Frida Kahlo: Opening-Day Talk with Hayden Herrera.” YouTube, 16 Mar. 2009,


    Contributors: Kerry Rork


    Kerry Rork. "Herrera, Hayden." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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