One can respect the art of Frida Kahlo whereas understanding nothing of the artwork of her onetime husband, the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. However the expertise of sure of her work may be tremendously enriched by some information of their relationship, the clearest instance being The Two Fridas, which Kahlo painted in 1939 after their divorce. The biggest of her quite a few self-portraits, it presents the artist as a set of doppelgängers set aside by their apparel: one wears a European costume, and the opposite a standard Mexican one. The ensuing tableau might, on one stage, mirror her twin heritage; it additionally, as Kahlo herself put it, reveals “the Frida Diego beloved, and the one he didn’t.”
The Two Fridas is the topic of the video essay above from Great Art Explained. “The darker-skinned Frida on the appropriate is the indigenous Mexican Frida that was adored by her husband,” explains its host, gallerist James Payne.
“The lighter-skinned Frida on the left is the European Frida that he rejected.” Presenting herself within the former trend “despatched a transparent message of cultural identification, nationalism, and feminism” — however it additionally hid the “damaged physique” that resulted from a bus crash in her youth in addition to numerous different bodily problems later in life. This portrait, nonetheless, exposes the center of “Mexican Frida” in an effort to present that it “stays intact, sustained by the small portrait of Diego” in her hand.
The guts of “European Frida,” nonetheless, is rendered as “disconnected from her beloved Diego,” and it “bleeds profusely onto her costume, a Victorian lace costume much like the one her mom wore.” The 2 Fridas are related by their uncovered hearts by a single artery, one related to the portrait of Rivera. Payne factors out the actual symbolic energy of a bleeding coronary heart, a “elementary image of Catholicism” that “may also be seen as symbolic of Aztec ritual sacrifice,” within the case of a culturally conflicted artist comparable to Kahlo. On reflection, The Two Fridas additionally appears to precise the inevitability of Kahlo and Rivera’s remarriage, which might come the next yr. They’d “one of the vital obsessive and tumultuous relationships in artwork historical past,” as Payne places it, however whereas each lived, they knew they couldn’t do with out one another.
Associated content material:
Frida Kahlo: The Life of an Artist
A Brief Animated Introduction to the Life and Work of Frida Kahlo
The Intimacy of Frida Kahlo’s Self-Portraits: A Video Essay
Home Movies of Frida Kahlo (and a Side Order of Romantic Entanglements)
Frida Kahlo: The Complete Paintings Collects the Painter’s Entire Body of Work in a 600-Page, Large-Format Book
Discover Frida Kahlo’s Wildly-Illustrated Diary: It Chronicled the Last 10 Years of Her Life, and Then Got Locked Away for Decades
Based mostly in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His tasks embody the Substack publication Books on Cities, the e book The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll by Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video collection The City in Cinema. Comply with him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.