10 Frida Kahlo Paintings That Don’t Get Enough Love
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”
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.
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”
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?
Girl with Death Mask
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”
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”
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.
“Self Portrait on the Borderline between Mexico and the United States”
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”
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”
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”
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.