Saturday Art: Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo-Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird

 (Picture courtesy of Yuan Tian at

(Picture courtesy of Maria de Oro at

Born to a photographer who moved to Mexico and adopted it as his home, Kahlo gave her birthdate as that of the Revolution there, in 1910.   She has attained some of the resonance of the fiery days of that time, and much of her artwork has the distinction of her time, and its atmosphere.

Kahlo’s life began and ended in Mexico City, in her home known as the Blue House. Her work has been celebrated in Mexico as emblematic of national and indigenous tradition, and by feminists for its uncompromising depiction of the female experience and form.[6]

Mexican culture and Amerindian cultural tradition are important in her work, which has been sometimes characterized as naïve art or folk art.[7] Her work has also been described as surrealist, and in 1938 André Breton, principal initiator of the surrealist movement, described Kahlo’s art as a “ribbon around a bomb”.[6] Frida rejected the “surrealist” label; she believed that her work reflected more of her reality than her dreams.[8]

Kahlo had a volatile marriage with the famous Mexican artist Diego Rivera. She suffered lifelong health problems, many caused by a traffic accident she survived as a teenager. Recovering from her injuries isolated her from other people, and this isolation influenced her works, many of which are self-portraits of one sort or another. Kahlo suggested, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.”[9] She also stated, “I was born a bitch. I was born a painter.”[10]


Kahlo created at least 140 paintings, along with dozens of drawings and studies. Of her paintings, 55 are self-portraits which often incorporate symbolic portrayals of physical and psychological wounds. She insisted, “I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.”[24]

Diego Rivera had a great influence on Kahlo’s painting style. Kahlo had always admired Rivera and his work. She first approached him in the Public Ministry of Education, where he had been working on a mural in 1927. She showed him four of her paintings, and asked whether he considered her gifted. Rivera was impressed and said, “You have got talent.” After that, he became a frequent welcomed guest at Kahlo’s house. He gave her many insights about her artwork while still leaving her space to explore herself. The positive and encouraging comments made by Rivera strengthened Kahlo’s wish to pursue a career as an artist.[25]

Kahlo was also influenced by indigenous Mexican culture, which is apparent in her use of bright colors, dramatic symbolism and primitive style. She frequently included the monkey, which in Mexican mythology is a symbol of lust, and Kahlo portrayed it as tender and protective symbols. Christian and Jewish themes are often depicted in her work.[26] She combined elements of the classic religious Mexican tradition with surrealist renderings.

Kahlo has a position of isolation, and unique femininity and is one of Mexico’s most recognized artists.

(Picture courtesy of Theresa Huse at

 Self Portrait by Frida Kahlo

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Ruth Calvo

Ruth Calvo

I've blogged at The Seminal for about two years, was at cabdrollery for around three. I live in N.TX., worked for Sen.Yarborough of TX after graduation from Wellesley, went on to receive award in playwriting, served on MD Arts Council after award, then managed a few campaigns in MD and served as assistant to a member of the MD House for several years, have worked in legal offices and written for magazines, now am retired but addicted to politics, and join gladly in promoting liberals and liberal policies.


  1. Marion in Savannah
    June 20, 2015 at 8:14 am

    Good morning, pups. Y’all have a free day today since both Ms. Collins and Mr. Nocera are off today. So there’s nothing to report on the 2016 Clown Car and no water to carry for Big Energy. But Prof. Krugman did post to his blog yesterday, so

    HERE he is.

    The coffee and tea are ready, and I’ve got blueberry pancakes this morning. It looks like we’re in for another scorcher today, so I’m heading out to water and fill the bird feeders before it gets too hot. Have a great day.

  2. Beverly Lawson
    June 20, 2015 at 8:16 am

    Very interesting, Ruth. Thank you. Hope your trip is great…..On the Charleston topic….why would a father give his son a gun? Gives me a headache. RIP and blessings to Charleston.

  3. June 20, 2015 at 9:25 am

    Good morning.

    Being married to Diego Rivera then she knew Edward Weston who moved to Mexico in 1923 and became friends with Rivera.

    Weston is probably the sine qua non in my embrace of photography as a passion.

  4. Canyon2
    June 20, 2015 at 10:03 am

    Good morning everyone.
    Thank you for the post Ruth. Long distance learning today.

  5. Canyon2
    June 20, 2015 at 10:08 am

    I second your RIP Beverly. So sad.
    One of the things that really stands out here is that all the GOP candidates are dancing around the real motivation of the shooter because they do not want to tick off their donor base. It is just sick the tapdancing that they are doing.
    Now back to the intent of Ruth’s topic on art and learning. Sorry for the rant Ruth.

  6. Ruth
    June 20, 2015 at 11:05 am

    Thanks, funny, I always like a day without Bobo, so fine. Nothing blueberry here, but the scones with raisins are ‘sultana’ scones, funny names to get used to. A few folks have asked me about the heat … in Pennsylvania. Funny.

  7. Ruth
    June 20, 2015 at 11:06 am

    Thanks, maybe one of us should do a post on him. I kind of leave photography to you, it’s such a passion of yours, hope you will do one.

  8. Ruth
    June 20, 2015 at 11:08 am

    Thanks, it was a little odd, knowing you were all on such different time schedules from mine. This is an amazing artist, and I see her influence in C.& S. America a lot.

  9. Ruth
    June 20, 2015 at 11:08 am

    Wonderful and today did Covent Garden/Market, quite amazing.

  10. Alice X
    June 20, 2015 at 11:32 am

    Morning all –


    Maybe it will be worth only $7.70.

    Now That Women Can Appear on Our $10 Bills, Can They Make More Money, Too?

  11. Alice X
    June 20, 2015 at 11:58 am
  12. Ruth
    June 20, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    thanks, yes, he is also amazing, and got commissioned with a few murals that showed he was considered major here, too.

  13. June 20, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    See Sunday. I was considering reviewing his daybooks first but they are only available in the stack room of the County Library.

  14. Beverly Lawson
    June 21, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    Im really happy for the “rant”. Seeing the coward defense of the flag issue makes me ill. Have Huckabee et al forgotten the Civil War, Slavery, and the continuing harm and sin of racism…..There must be a renewed conversation and an end to the pretense that Blacks now have equal opportunities…..what a delusion. Thanks.