• January 31, 2023

5 Frida Kahlo Works — Lesser-Known, Made Late-In Life — Now On View In Dallas : NPR

Frida Kahlo, Sun and Life, 1947, oil on masonite, private collection, courtesy of Galería Arvil

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© 2021 Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, DF / Artists’ Rights Society (ARS), New York

What else is there to say about Frida Kahlo?

She died in 1954 at the age of 47. It is now a home industry. Her face (that unibrow, the red lips, the tons of self-portraits) has been reproduced on mugs, matchboxes, pandemic masks and of course tote bags.

Was Frida Kahlo over-commercialized when Mexico benefited from her image?

Fans can recite their story: The Terrible Accident at 18 – a bus / tram collision in Mexico City that shattered their bodies, causing lifelong surgery and pain.

The passionate, turbulent years with the artist Diego Rivera. “I’ve suffered two serious accidents in my life,” said Kahlo. “One in which a bus knocked me to the ground … the other … Diego.”

Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo at their home in Mexico City on April 13, 1939. AP hide caption

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The extraordinary pictures she took until her death.

The global cult figure she has become.

There is some less familiar information in a new and very good documentation about her.

And on March 7th, the Dallas Museum of Art opened a small exhibition – Frida Kahlo: Five Works – that finds revelations in lesser-known paintings she made later in life when her health deteriorated and her art changed.

Frida Kahlo, Still Life with Parrot and Flag, 1951, oil on masonite, private collection, courtesy of Galería Arvil

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© 2021 Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, DF / Artists’ Rights Society (ARS), New York

“Still lifes have been something that has appealed to her throughout her career,” says Mark A. Castro, Dallas curator. “But in recent years she has returned to them in greater numbers.”

Frida Kahlo, Still Life, 1951, oil on masonite, private collection, courtesy of Galería Arvil

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© 2021 Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, DF / Artists’ Rights Society (ARS), New York

Her themes remain: lush fruits, love for Mexico, animals, Diego. However, there are less radiant or agonized self-portraits. She told friends that still lifes sold well and were easier to make. (I wonder if she got tired of looking at her aging, tormented face, too.)

Curator Castro says this later work was a kind of self-portrait, and the Dallas Conservation Lab’s x-ray and infrared photography first discovered how she worked. The still life with the parrot and flag showed how she changed the position of the bird’s wing and cut up fruit that she had originally painted intact. “There was a process of refinement that it went through,” says Castro. She switched from personal expression to “focusing on how they work on a visual level”. Helpful information when scholars go beyond Kahlo’s life and hard times to study her as a painter and intellectual.

But she was also Diego Rivera’s wife twice. And this little work on a keepsake frame studded with painted seashells shows what it meant to her.

Frida Kahlo, Diego and Frida 1929 – 1944, 1944, oil on masonite with originally painted shell frame, private collection, with the kind permission of Galería Arvi New York hide the caption

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© 2021 Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, DF / Artists’ Rights Society (ARS), New York

Frida Kahlo, Diego and Frida 1929-1944, 1944, oil on masonite with originally painted shell frame, private collection, with the kind permission of Galería Arvi

© 2021 Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, DF / Artists’ Rights Society (ARS), New York

It looks like a devotional piece and it literally is. Do you see the two dates on the frame? 1929 – the year they first married (then divorced, then remarried) and 1944 – the years of their in and out relationship. Maybe it was a birthday present for Diego or an anniversary present. She fuses their faces together. You become a whole.

The five works exhibited in Dallas belong to collectors in Mexico who have offered them on loan. Mark Castro thought this was the perfect time to exhibit them. “During this difficult time, people feel strongly connected to Kahlo’s worries and successes.” Art helps us get through bad times like art did for Kahlo.

“Painting made my life complete,” she said.

Your fans might think the same way.

Art where you are is an informal series that shows offerings in museums that are closed due to COVID-19 or museums that you may not be able to visit.

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