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Frida Kahlo - life and works

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Frida Kahlo 1907 - 1954 Historical Account Kahlo of a Mexican decent is a fine artist who conveys her life story through her wide range of self-portraits. They are evidence of her need for self-expression and her exploration of identity. In 1939, French Surrealist André Breton told Kahlo that she was a surrealist, but Kahlo states ‘they thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn't. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.’ Kahlo never intended to paint as surrealist, but unconsciously took up the elements of surrealism, in a symbolic way to express and understand the tragedy of her life. Her imagery was less about fantasy, and more about an exploration of her own personal reality, a search for self-identity. Kahlo was inspired by native popular art. She wanted her paintings to acknowledge her Mexican identity, and she frequently used technical devices and subject matter from Mexican archaeology and folk art. Kahlo was a slow painter and her canvases were meditated by time and contemplation. Communism, Aztec rituals and Christianity also influenced Kahlo. People who have studied Frida Kahlo’s work have been fascinated and inspired by her unique style of paintings. Her paintings were graphic and painful. What you saw in her paintings were in her reality, and symbolised a stage in her life. Hayden Herrera writes ‘Every time Diego left her, there's another painting with tears or gashes.’ ‘It is impossible to separate the life and work of this extraordinary person. ...read more.


But Kahlo also saw the humour in this story. She includes inappropriate details such as; delicate lace on the pillowcase that has been drenched with blood, a rolled down stocking on the dead woman?s leg, and ironically of a pair of doves holding a blue ribbon inscribed with the title. Some critics have seen paintings like this as examples of Kahlo bravely starting new paths for women?s art by using subject matter that had previously been looked badly upon for women artists. Others see it as an example of how Kahlo has used a dark Mexican sense of humor. Art Critic Hayden Herrera puts forward the view that Kahlo?s disturbing images reflect similar images in Mexican popular culture . Analysis of Artworks - The Two Fridas is a double self-portrait, which is a complex image filled with symbolism. The double identity Kahlo feels is revealed by contrasting costumes, Mexican and European. This work was painted as Kahlo was being divorced from painter Diego Rivera. The painting is filled with the pain she felt at the separation from Rivera. Kahlo has painted two versions of herself; one Frida, wears a Victorian dress, and is the one Rivera loved and the other, on the right, dressed in simple Tehuna dress, is the Frida he no longer loves. The two Fridas hold hands and are also connected by an artery that flows between their two hearts. ...read more.


At one end, this rope is tied to the hand of a masked, male figure, in underwear. On the ropes crawl repellent insects that come to feed on dead bodies; worms, larvae, a huge spider, and a tiny balancing ballerina, maybe reflecting the balancing Kahlo had to achieve in her family. This painting reveals Kahlo's inner feelings by using symbols that represent this in her life. She also symbolically reflects her childhood, dreams sadness and desires. All her images are joined in tightly to events in her life. According to Rivera, Kahlo was ?the only example in the history of art of an artist who tore open her chest and heart to reveal the biological truth of her feelings.? - Frida?s painting self portrait with thorn necklace and hummingbird addresses many personal issues, symbolised through use of Aztec symbols the monkey on her shoulder, fertility, Frida unable to have children, is substituted with the monkeys, thorns on her head reflect pain and Catholic Mexico. A dead hummingbird around her neck and butterflies in her hair, signify the dead warriors, a black cat represented bad luck, as she has suffered a lot of injuries. The style of this painting is decorative and extremely colourful with its greens, reds, blues and yellows, typical of Mexican culture. She uses tiny brushstrokes to create the detail as seen in her work. ...read more.

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