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home > frida! > Frida Kahlo, About Her Work

Frida Kahlo, About Her Work

From about 1925 (when Frida began to paint) to about 1932, her paintings were mostly portraits of women or children, done with frontal views and earthy color palettes. Although self-taught, she read, studied and committed to memory intensely and easily. She was extremely well versed in the history and painting of the Florentine Renaissance, paintings where the subject is formally posed, with rich, velvet-like backdrops.

In 1932, with her miscarriage at the Henry Ford Hospital, Frida's work moves to images of suffering, portrayed very graphically and with bright colors. The Mexican ratabla, in which one cries out for help to divine powers, or a saint, is a common theme in Mexican painting. But in her paintings, Frida is alone in her suffering and pain and there is no evidence of assistance or help.

Being married to Diego, she met famous people from all over the world. She began to wear the Tehuana dress, which was worn by women of the region of Juchitán in Techuantepec. Men in this region tend to be more domestic, and the women dominated the commercial and social life. With their voluminous dresses, the women wanted to demonstrate their solid and strong bodies. The Tehuana dress became a symbol of her new life and appears in many of her paintings.

In addition to the Tehuana dress, Frida repeatedly used other symbols, such as dolls, skeletons, the Judas figure, masks, dogs, and monkeys. The symbols of roots and plants come from her study of science and anatomy as she studied at the Prepatoria to be a doctor.

With her health failing later in life, Frida painted still life's that continued to reflect her pain and suffering.

Frida Kahlo's work includes over 200 sketches, drawings and paintings. Of the 143 paintings, 55 are self-portraits. Much of her work is no larger than 12" x 15". Her work realistically and symbolically reflects her Mexican heritage and customs, the relationships in her life, her physical and emotional pain, and ideals of literature and politics. It was Diego who said: "She paints from her heart."

Diary entry, March, 1954:

I have achieved a lot.
Confidence in walking
Confidence in painting.
I love Diego more
than myself.
My will is strong
My will remains.

My Grandparents, My Parents, and I 1936

Dona Rosita 1944

Portrait of Don Guillermo Kahlo 1951

Self-Portrait With Cropped Hair 1940

Self-Portrait (Dedicated To Leon Trotsky) 1937

The Little Deer 1946

Flower of Life 1944

Still Life With Parrot 1951

journal page 1

journal page 2

Self-Portrait 1948

Self-Portrait 1933

The Frame c. 1938

The Two Fridas 1939

Very Ugly 1933

Viva La Vida 1954

Frida and Diego Rivera 1931

The Flower Basket, 1941

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