An iconic Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo is best known for her monumental canvases imbued with intricate, symbolic narratives of loss, death, and selfhood. Her life became as iconic as her work, since her personal experience served as the greatest source of inspiration throughout her entire oeuvre. She frequently painted significant moments in her life and the deep emotions associated with them.
This winter, the Dallas Museum of Art will present five exquisite artworks by the acclaimed Mexican painter. Titled Frida Kahlo: Five Works, the exhibition brings together four paintings and a drawing on loan from a private collection, courtesy of the Galería Arvil in Mexico City. Through these five works, the show seeks to provide a better understanding of larger aspects of Kahlo’s artistic practice as well as personal experiences, such as her development of a personal language of metaphorical imagery and her exploration of still life painting.
As Dr. Agustín Arteaga, the DMA’s Eugene McDermott Director says, the exhibition will offer the visitors "a chance to look closely at these five works and explore the many stories they can tell about Kahlo, her remarkable work, and her inspiring life."
Additionally, the curator Dr. Mark A. Castro, Jorge Baldor Curator of Latin American Art and the DMA’s Painting Conservator Laura Hartman will examine three of Kahlo's paintings with non-invasive imaging techniques such as x-radiography and infrared photography, allowing us to peer bellow their surface. Castro said:
At a time when art has become a critical source of solace and inspiration for many of us, this small installation offers a glimpse into the work of one today’s most admired artists. At the heart of the sensational story of Kahlo’s life are captivating works like these; they are visceral in their emotion and vibrant in their execution.
The exhibition Frida Kahlo: Five Works will be on view at the Dallas Museum of Arton the Atrium Overlook on Level 4 from February 28th until June 20th, 2021.
Let's take a look at Frida Kahlo paintings featured in Dallas.
Featured image: Frida Kahlo - Still Life with Parrot and Flag, 1951, detail. Oil on masonite. Private Collection, Courtesy Galería Arvil. © 2021 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. All images courtesy Dallas Museum of Art.
An intimate painting, Diego and Frida 1929 – 1944 is a personal memento created by Frida Kahlo to mark her fifteen-year relationship with Diego Rivera, with years in the title signifying their years of marriage. Painted by the artist as a present for her husband for their anniversary, it expresses her deep love for him.
In this double portrait, they are portrayed as only one person with both halves of faces completing each other, mingling both of their images and identities. The work also features the sun and moon, which is a symbol of husband and wife, and the joined scallop and conch which signify their love union. The work is still housed in the original shell covered frame selected by Kahlo.
Featured image: Frida Kahlo - Diego and Frida 1929 – 1944, 1944. Oil on masonite with original painted shell frame. Private Collection. Courtesy Galería Arvil. © 2021 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
After self-portraits and portraits, still life is the third artistic genre in importance in Kahlo's practice. It was around 1950s that the artist began painting them intensely. In Still Life with Parrot and Flag from 1951, the Mexican national flag is embedded in the rind of some tropical fruit, also accompanied by a native parrot, signifying the artist's renewed interest in the nationalistic politics of her country. The work is executed in vibrant colors, representing Nature's bounty. The work also suggests erotic pleasure, with images of innocent fruit transformed into exposed succulent flesh in a direct invitation to pleasure. Oil on Masonite hardboard, it measures 40 cm width, and 28 cm height.
Featured image: Frida Kahlo - Still Life with Parrot and Flag, 1951. Oil on masonite. Private Collection. Courtesy Galería Arvil. © 2021 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Painted in 1951, Still Life is one of two still-life works that Frida Kahlo painted for her dentist and personal friend Dr. Samuel Fastlicht as a compensation for some dental work he had performed on her. With this work, Kahlo continues to push the boundaries of traditional still-life painting, transforming her assemblages of native Mexican fruits, national symbols, and ancient artifacts into ruminations on her own identity.
The inscription on the flag reads in Spanish "Soy de Samuel Fastlicht. Me pintó con todo cariño por Frida Kahlo en 1951. Coyoacán", meaning "I belong to Samuel Fastlicht. I was painted with great affection by Frida Kahlo in 1951. Coyoacán." Coyoacán is the city where Frida Kahlo was born and where she spent the last 13 years of her life.
Featured image: Frida Kahlo - Still Life, 1951. Oil on masonite. Private Collection. Courtesy Galería Arvil. © 2021 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
In the work Sun and Life, Frida Kahlo weaves an intense rumination on the cycle of life and death, drawing on her extensive knowledge of art and spirituality. As she was unable to bear children due to the bus accident that happened in 1926, Kahlo often included fertility as the subject of her paintings. The work feature plants, which mimic the shape of male penises and female wombs, and sun which is implied to give life to them. The plants are depicted in process of gestation: the flowers’ pistils are drops of semen impregnating the ovum inside.
The painting also features a fetus protected by the sun and plants. Both sun and fetus are crying, possibly signifying her own sadness over infertility.
Featured image: Frida Kahlo - Sun and Life, 1947. Oil on masonite. Private Collection. Courtesy Galería Arvil. © 2021 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
The drawing View of New York, shows the view from Kahlo’s window at the Barbizon Plaza Hotel, where she and Rivera stayed during a segment of their sojourn in the United States. The work was a gift for Dolores del Río, the Mexican actress and a friend of the couple.
The drawing provides a view of both the inside and outside of the room - showing the landscape and some of the city's buildings and a shelf, the radiator and some of the artist's belongings.
Featured image: Frida Kahlo - View of New York (Dedicated to Dolores del Río), 1932. Pencil on paper. Private Collection. Courtesy Galería Arvil. © 2021 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
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