Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo Y Calderon

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Magdalena Carmene Frida Kahlo y Calderón, otherwise known as Frida Kahlo, was born on July 6, 1907, in Coyoacán, Mexico. She was the daughter of Hungarian Jewish immigrant photographer, Guillermo Kahlo, and Matilde Calderón. Kahlo studied at the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria, where she was one of thirty-five girls in a student body of two thousand. In 1925, Kahlo was in a traffic accident and her spine and pelvis were fractured. While she recovered she began to paint. In 1929, Kahlo married famed muralist, Diego Rivera.

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As a couple they became international celebrities; they were honored in the art world and the political left.

Style and Artwork:

Kahlo was best known for her self-portraits. She drew upon the Mexican cultural nationalist movement and elevated Tehuana dress to high fashion. Kahlo also coiffed her hair in indigenous styles embellished with ribbons, bows, combs, and flowers. Kahlo was a living work of art, self constructed to fight her constant physical pain and her sorrow at being unable to conceive a child and her husband’s many affairs.

The majority of Kahlo’s paintings are small intricately crafted self-portraits that combine the real and the fantastic. They capture her spiritual and physical suffering in anatomical, surgical detail cast in traditional Mexican art forms and using Catholic and pre-Colombian imagery and symbolism. Her subject matter focuses on motherhood, fertility, childbirth, childhood, children, the womb and family. Her art also deals with domestic violence, adultery, and her drive to control her own body.

Kahlo’s work is often interpreted as surrealist. Her depiction of flowing blood and wounded bodies derives from Mexican popular culture. Kahlo achieves a degree of sensual expression unequalled in Mexican art through her depiction of monkeys, prickly pears, and rain forests. This can be seen in her 1943 Self-Portrait with Monkeys.

This painting was completed after Kahlo’s divorce from her husband Diego Rivera. At this time Kahlo refused to accept money from her ex-husband and painted many paintings in a short time period in an attempt to become financially independent. The Two Fridas reveals a lot about Kahlo and the things going on in her life at this time. This piece shows the Kahlo that her husband had loved which is seated next to and holding hands with the Kahlo that he rejected. In addition, this artwork shows Frida’s two different personalities: traditional (Kahlo on the left) and modern (right). In Frida’s diary, she said that this painting originated from her memory of a childhood friend but later she admitted that it “expressed her her desperation and loneliness with the separation form Diego” ( The Two Fridas also depicts Kahlo as self-reliant as her stronger, Mexican self is nurturing her wounded, European self. To add to all of this, the painting also shows Kahlo’s heritage. The Kahlo on the left is wearing a traditional European styled dress which represents her European heritage. The Kahlo on the right is wearing an indigenous Mexican dress which represents her Mexican heritage.

This painting references Kahlo’s belief in the cyclical connection between the natural world and human beings. This is shown by the fact that she is tied to her dog (Señor Xolotl), her pet monkey, and a pre-Columbian idol. The bond with nature is reinforced by the monkey’s arm around Kahlo’s neck, the root-like ribbon draped around all of the objects in the painting, and the red ribbon in Kahlo’s hair. These objects also show Kahlo’s love of nature. In addition, the ribbon is symbolic of life lines

Kahlo’s pride in her heritage is shown with the indigenous hairstyle that she chose to depict herself in. She also chose to include the pre-Columbian idol which references Mexican history and thus her Mexican roots.

The Two Fridas was completed after Kahlo’s divorce from Rivera. At this time Kahlo refused to accept money from her ex-husband and painted many paintings in a short time period in an attempt to become financially independent. This painting was made near the start of World War II so there was a fearful and tense atmosphere as Kahlo made this painting.

Self-Portrait with Small Monkey was completed five years after Kahlo remarried Rivera under the conditions of financial independence and no sexual relations so she likely continued painting at a furious pace to remain financially independent. This painting was made near the end of World War II so there was likely an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty as Kahlo painted this piece. However, Kahlo was likely pleased about the rise of communism that occured after the war.

Jonathan Green was born August 9, 1955, in Gardens Corner, South Carolina, as the second of seven children. He lived in New York City with his mother for a few years because she was looking for better employment. Green returned to South Carolina before he became a teenager and lived with his maternal grandmother, Eloise Stewart Johnson, and became interested in studying art at Beaufort High School but did not think he could make a living off of making art. After graduation, he joined the U.S. Air Force. Later he attended a technical college in Minnesota near where he was stationed so he could study illustration and his teachers there encouraged him to make art his profession. This caused him to apply after his discharge to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) from which he earned his bachelor of fine arts degree in 1982.

Green is the first person of Gullah ancestry to train at a professional art school. He has created an acclaimed body of work that documents Gullah culture. Green’s work has been shown across the U.S. and internationally and he has received numerous awards. Green now resides in Naples, Florida.

Green’s early paintings were influenced by cubist artists but he later moved toward a style that emphasizes flat color fields. Almost all of Green’s paintings depict humans in simple white dresses or fabrics with bright polka dots, stripes, and flowers. Bold use of color is one of his trademarks.

Green wanted to honor Gullah culture in his work and so the daily chores, activities, and celebrations of Gullah life are the subject matter for his paintings and prints. Important aspects and values of Gullah culture are depicted in Green’s art. For example, the importance living off of the land to the Gullah community which is seen in his earlier work Sharing the Chores. Gullah culture is disappearing so Green tries to create greater awareness of Gullah culture in his paintings.

Sea Swing was intended to depict a regular activity in Gullah culture. The painting shows a girl on a swing before or after church service. Church is very important to the Gullah community as is the ocean since the ocean is a major resource for the Gullah community. The painting also shows the pride Green has for the beautiful South Carolina landscape and his love of nature. The wide landscape scene in the background can also be interpreted to show the importance of nature to the Gullah community.

This painting was completed in the same year as the 9/11 terrorist attack on the U.S. World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. The war against terrorism began a few months after the attack. Thus, Green was likely afraid and in shock like the rest of Americans at this time. When put into this context, the painting could be interpreted the girl looking out over seas at the terrorist threat that America is now facing. In addition, prior to Green’s paintings, there were not a lot of African Americans in paintings featured in art museums.

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Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderon. (2020, Jan 27). Retrieved from