Culture

10 Frida Kahlo Paintings That Don’t Get Enough Love

frida-kahlo-foundation.org

Many adjectives are used to describe renowned Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Obscure is not one of them. She didn’t sell many paintings during her lifetime, but now, everyone wants a piece of her. And even though she is more popular than ever, some of her paintings don’t get much love, like:

“What the Water Gave Me”

What the Water Gave Me Frida Kahlo
Photo Credit: frida-kahlo-foundation.org

Completed in 1938, this painting is basically Kahlo’s biography in water. Everything in the water is symbolic of a significant event or circumstance in her life. Kahlo’s life was full of pain. She had polio as a child, she almost died in a street car accident in her teens and she went through 30 operations in her lifetime. She also had two miscarriages and, of course, there was her tumultuous love affair with Diego Rivera.

“Cactus Fruits”

Cactus Fruits Frida Kahlo
Photo Credit: frida-kahlo-foundation.org

At first glance, this piece from 1937 appears to be a simple still life, but check out how the fruit is painted. Almost like it’s bleeding, right? There are even stains on the fabric below the plate. Frida suffered in her lifetime and it’s apparent even when she painted fruit, you guys!

“Four Inhabitants of Mexico”

Four Inhabitants of Mexico
Photo Credit: frida-kahlo-foundation.org

Check out a childhood version of Kahlo surrounded by symbolic inhabitants of Mexico. Grab a drink, sit a minute and try to figure out what it all means — like the guy in the front wearing overalls. Hmm… I mean it’s not Diego Rivera, but he sure does dress like him. And that pre-Columbian Nayarit figure just happens to be missing feet?

READ: Would You Recognize Frida Kahlo as a Child?

Girl with Death Mask

Girl with Death Mask
Photo Credit: frida-kahlo-foundation.org

This 1938 portrait of a lonesome masked four-year-old girl with Day of the Dead paraphernalia lives in the Nagoya City Art Museum in Japan. Many speculate that the little girl is Frida herself. What do you think?

“My Dress Hangs There”

My Dress Hangs There
Photo Credit: frida-kahlo-foundation.org

From 1930-1934, Kahlo lived in the United States with husband Diego Rivera. This painting is a window into Kahlo’s feelings about the US. Hint: she did not enjoy her stay. She once said, “The most important thing for everyone in Gringolandia is to have ambition and become ‘somebody,’ and frankly, I don’t have the least ambition to become anybody.” Perhaps her lack of ambition to become “somebody” is why her dress is featured in the painting, but not Frida.

“Moses Nucleus of Creation”

Moses Nucleus of Creation
Photo Credit: frida-kahlo-foundation.org

An engineer named Don José Domingo Lavin asked Kahlo to read Sigmund Freud’s book Moses and pretty much paint a book report about it. Here’s the thing though, Kahlo’s visual book report is no substitute for the actual book. She explained, “I read the book only once, and started the painting with my first impression. Later I read it again, and I must confess I found my work most inadequate and quite different from the interpretation Freud analyzes so marvelously in his [book] Moses. But now there’s no way to change it.” Notice that in the middle of the painting is an abandoned baby. Not only does the baby resemble Diego Rivera, it also has a third eye of wisdom, which is how Frida painted Diego in other portraits.

READ: 10 Trends Frida Kahlo Started

“Self Portrait on the Borderline between Mexico and the United States”

Self Portraint on the Borderline Between Mexico and the United States
Photo Credit: frida-kahlo-foundation.org

First you think, “Oh look she’s so demure and pretty in pink,” but then you notice her nipples are standing at attention and she’s smoking – look closely at her right hand. Made when she was in the US with Rivera, Kahlo juxtaposes Mexico’s pre-Hispanic roots with the US, a land of industry. It appears that though she may physically be in the US, her loyalty is with Mexico.

“Shcaufenster in Detroit”

Shcaufenster in Detroit Frida Kahlo
Photo Credit: frida-kahlo-foundation.org

This piece from 1932 appears to show Kahlo looking into a store window in Detroit. At first glance, you probably wouldn’t guess it was a Kahlo painting. It’s fascinating because Kahlo was miserable during her stay in Detroit and suffered a miscarriage while she was there.

“Still Life with Parrot”

Still Life with Parrot
Photo Credit: frida-kahlo-foundation.org

In the latter part of her life, Kahlo worked on still life paintings like this one from 1951. She said they were easier than self portraits. Kahlo also hoped they would sell quickly so she could use the money for medical bills.

“The Last Supper”

The Last Supper Frida Kahlo
Photo Credit: frida-kahlo-foundation.org

This particular painting is mind-blowing because it’s like she invited a bunch of her previous self portraits to come share their last meal together.

What’s your favorite Frida Kahlo painting? Click that share button below to spread some Kahlo love. 

This Peruvian Queen Has Been Brought Back To Life In An Ultra-Realistic Sculpture And People Cannot Believe She’s Not Real

Things That Matter

This Peruvian Queen Has Been Brought Back To Life In An Ultra-Realistic Sculpture And People Cannot Believe She’s Not Real

odnilsson.com

Have you ever wondered what your ancestors looked like — if you shared the same cheekbones, hair texture, skin tone or smile? Sure, some of us have seen illustrated reimaginings of our ancient forebearers, but there still remains a longing to know what they might have looked, felt or sounded like in real life. In Sweden, one man is using his artistic talents and archeological knowledge to give us a glimpse of our primordial relatives.

Oscar Nilsson is a sculptor and archaeologist who specializes in reconstructing faces.

Credit: odnilsson.com

Since the 1990s, he’s been using his skills to hand-sculpt the faces of people who lived hundreds to thousands of years ago. Through his company, O.D. Nilssons, the creative works with various museums to help restore faces of people whose remains were discovered during archaeological excavations.

In the past two decades, Nilsson has revived more than a dozen primitive individuals. He has restructured a young woman from the Stone Age, who lived in what is now Brighton, United Kingdom about 5,500 years ago. His reimaginings show that people who originally inhabited the area weren’t white but rather a deep brown that resembles those from North Africa. He recreated the face of an 18-year-old girl who lived in modern-day Greece about 7,000 years before Christ; a malnourished, anemic man who lived during the Bronze Age about 3,700 years ago; and a well-built man with a “Suebian knot” who lived in Britain about 2,400 years ago in the Iron Age.

In addition to the unnamed progenitors, Nilsson has also used unearthed remains to restructure the faces of leaders of the past world. Through his work, he has brought to life Birger Jarl, the ruler of Sweden from 1248 until his death on Oct. 1, 1266, as well as Estrid Sigfastsdotter, a rich woman who lived in XI century AD near Stockholm and died around the age of 80 at a time when the life expectancy was about 35 years old.

One of our favorite Nilsson reconstructions, however, is that of Huarmey Queen, a Wari monarch woman from what is today northwest Peru.

Credit: odnilsson.com

In 2012, a Polish archeological group found a burial of the indigenous Wari culture, which would later become the Incan Empire. The tomb carried the remains of 58 noblewomen of different ages, all buried with “extraordinary luxuries.” Huarmey Queen, for instance, was entombed with jewelry, gold ear flares, a silver goblet, a copper ceremonial axe and expensive textiles, among other splendors. In his sculpture, the woman is seen aged, with peppered hair and wrinkled skin. She has deep brown eyes, sharp cheekbones, lightly golden skin and large gauges in her ears.

Nilsson is able to make his restorations through a process that requires much time, patience, skill as well as anatomical, archaeological and historical understanding. The sculptor uses skulls discovered during archaeological digs as his base. He digitally scans the remains in an effort to perfectly map the craniums, using a 3D printer to rebuild them. With his knowledge of anatomy, he then overlays the restructured skulls with muscles. Using DNA analysis of the corpse as well as the surroundings of the site where the remains were found, he adds details like skin, hair, eye color and clothing.

In his work, he uses skin-pigmented silicone, actual human hair — which he inserts strand by strand — and prosthetic eyes. The entire process for one face restructure takes about 200 hours.

Credit: odnilsson.com

“The human face is a motif that never ceases to fascinate me: the variation of the underlying structure as well as the variety in details seem endless,” he says on his website. “And all the faces I reconstruct are unique. They are all individuals.”

As a university student, the artist studied archaeology, hoping to become a forensic artist. The man, who says he is fascinated by faces and history, told the DailyMail that he “wanted to see what the people from history look like.”  

Through his collaborations with museums, which hire him to recreate faces for various historical exhibitions, he is also able to give people a glimpse of what their own ancestors looked like. For him, his human-like sculptures are both a window into the past as well as a way to engage youth in history.

“I hope people get a feeling of ’I know this guy,’” he said. “It is the most effective way to make history relevant, especially to the younger generations.”

Read: The Aztecs Built It Out Of Human Skulls And Archeologists Are Starting To Uncover Its Mysteries

Kids On Both Sides Of The Border Wall Now Have Something Small To Smile About Thanks To An Artist Who Installed Seesaws

Things That Matter

Kids On Both Sides Of The Border Wall Now Have Something Small To Smile About Thanks To An Artist Who Installed Seesaws

rrael/ Instagram

Lately, when you think of the U.S-Mexico border, you think of the children being kept in cages, of migrant folks being kept in unthinkable conditions in detention prisons, and you think of the possible construction of Donald Trump’s beloved wall–among other negative connotations that the border brings. Then there are times when heartwarming images and scenes from the border show that despite the weaponization of the border, we’re still connected to one another in many ways. 

Architect and artist Ronald Rael designed and installed pink seesaws at the border for children from the United States and Mexico to play together.

The art installation, “Teeter-Totter Wall,” was created by Rael, an architecture professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and Virginia San Fratello, an associate professor of design at San Jose State University.

The custom-built seesaws were placed on both sides of the steel border fence that separates the U.S. and Mexico. The artist called it “one of the most incredible experiences of his career” in a post he shared on Instagram. 

About a decade ago, both Rael and San Fratello had designed the concept for the seesaw at the border for a book titled “Borderwall as Architecture.” Now, the drawings became a reality. 

Despite the negative headlines that dominate the news cycle every day, it’s refreshing to see artists like Ronald Rael use their platform and creativity to spark positivity and strengthen our sense of community. 

“The wall became a literal fulcrum for U.S.-Mexico relations and children and adults were connected in meaningful ways on both sides with the recognition that the actions that take place on one side have a direct consequence on the other side,” Rael wrote in his Instagram caption. Rael also gave a shoutout to the team who helped make this powerful art installation a reality in Cuidad Juárez, Mexico.

CNN also points out that the New Mexico town is also where a militia detained migrants in April (the ACLU called it a kidnapping), and where a private group began building its own border wall with the use of millions donated to a GoFundMe campaign. 

Last week, the Supreme Court also gave Trump a victory in his fight for the construction of a wall along the border. Further, the Supreme Court allowed the administration to use $2.5 billion in military funds for it. 

Despite all of the negative news surrounding the border, it was a different scene there on Monday near the Sunland Park stretch. Instead, it showed a heartwarming and lighter scene compared to what we’ve recently seen.

The art installation that this artist created is also meant to serve as a reminder. A reminder that “we are connected” and “what happens on one side impacts the other.”

The pink seesaws showed people from both sides of the border coming together in a unifying act. Children and adults alike on U.S soil were recorded playing with children from the other side. These light-hearted scenes from the border make one for if only a second forget the actual reality of it all. 

RAICES, a non-profit focusing on immigration legal services in Texas, shared on Twitter that “Art is such a powerful vehicle for change”

In the past, other scenes of art installations at the border have made rounds. For example, The Guardian notes the time when an architectural practice in Mexico designed a pink interpretation of Trump’s border wall. 

Claudia Tristán, the Director of Latinx Messaging for 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke also praised the art installation for the message it spread. 

“The symbolism of the seesaw is just magical,” she wrote in a tweet. “A #Border fence will not keep us from our neighbors.”

The video of architect and artist Ronald Rael that’s also making rounds on social media shows him saying that the seesaw that there are still “good relations the people of Mexico and the United States.” Therefore, the seesaw can portray that we are “equal” and the wall, he says, cuts those relationships between us. 

Ultimately, it is important to remember that with or without the U.S.-Mexico border, much of this land belonged to and will always belong to Native Americans.

We need to remember that the homelands of tribes including the Kumeyaay, Pai, Cocopah, O’odham, Yaqui, Apache and Kickapoo peoples were all split into two by the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the 1853 Gadsen Purchase–which is what makes up modern-day California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas

So while it is important to highlight the positive and humanizing images on the U.S.-Mexico border when we can, we should also be mindful of the indigenous communities to which this land belongs to. 

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