About one third of Kahlo’s paintings are self-portraits which are intensely personal and directly relate to her life. This quality in her work compels people to look at her biography for the meaning behind her images. This preoccupation with her life,Pablo Picasso paintings which is a dramatic read, allows skeptics to accuse, wrongly, that her popularity is due to her biography and not because her paintings are anything particularly special (Lowe 75). Her art breathes and beats with life; however, she is often overlooked and written off as overrated,Frida Kahlo paintings since her fascinating biography continues to shadow her visionary work, which is offered as a collection, not unlike a storybook,Diego Rivera paintings detailing her life (Mencimer 1). Part of the problem is the difficulty one faces when trying to define Frida Kahlo’s art work. Her paintings have an almost conscious unwillingness to be labeled and categorized. Her earliest paintings display a rudimentary working of cubist ideas, where the composition is broken into many facets,Fabian Perez paintings while her later painting titled My Dress Hangs There, uses a collaged cubism (Herrera 41, 101). However, by no stretch can Kahlo be neatly fitted into a cubist’s box.
Kahlo’s paintings, like those of the previous artists, show an awareness of art history and reflect linkages with predecessors she admired, often those from the Spanish tradition or from distinguished Italian portrait artists. For example,Thomas Cole paintings in her Self-Portrait with a Velvet Dress (1926), she alludes through both the red dress and the slender elegant fingers both to Botticelli and Bronzino.
Many of Kahlo’s works feature the wounded self/damaged body,Fernando Botero paintings which is specifically a female body. She is shown dealing with the pain and loss of miscarriage and infertility in Henry Ford Hospital, and with pain stemming from both physical and emotional wounds in paintings such as Broken Column,Caravaggio paintings and Wounded Deer. Despite the female identification Kahlo can also play upon and invoke identification with male saints: with St Sebastian (in Wounded Deer), and with Christ (in Broken Column).
Kahlo’s repeated experiments in the self-portraits with clothing and accessories such as jewelry, native plants, and animals, shows a preoccupation with defining and embracing her ethnic heritage (European German-Jewish, Mexican, Indian). Writing about Kahlo’s works, Sharyn R. Udall remarks, ‘She is trying on identities, both personal and artistic: from the melancholy aristocrat of her first self-portrait, she seems to be testing an image that speaks of her mixed Euro-American and Indian heritage. She is also concerned with political and national issues about the distinctive identity of Mexico as it emerges from colonialism into independence, and in particular with its identity vis-à-vis its northern neighbor,William Blake paintings the United States. She resists comparisons that rank the two countries by showing th progressive, industrial, wealthy northern country as superior to its poor and ‘primitive’ southern neighbor. Her own allegiance is clear.
Many of the symbols Frida Kahlo uses in her paintings come from not only from Mexican culture, but from Aztec mythology as well. Her painting The Little Dear, perfectly demonstrates the hybridization of people and animals,Winslow Homer paintings as well as plants, in Aztec myth. This painting is of a stag pierced by seven arrows, yet instead of the face you’d expect, it is Frida’s. She has become one with this animal. Also, the Aztec’s attributed certain animals to certain body parts. The deer was associated with the right foot, which held special significance for Frida Kahlo because throughout her life she had multiple operations on her own right foot. Kahlo’s painting,Thomas Kinkade paintings, shows Frida Kahlo as a plant hybrid. She casually reclines on a cracked landscape with her torso opened up revealing thick green roots which grow out onto the land and where the leaves would have veins, it seems Kahlo’s thin red veins replace them, conjoining both Frida and plant together as one entity .
Frida Kahlo not only gained her symbology from Mexican culture, but also the style in which she painted was influenced by it as well. Retablos are a Mexican folk art in which street artists paint little pictures that often tell of a tragedy and how someone overcame that tragedy through the help of some religious figure; Small banners are painted on them, narrating the picture and giving thanks to the helpful saint. They are small-scale and are painted on tin (Mencimer 1). Frida Kahlo first painted a sort of retablo at the suggestion of her husband, who was hoping to cheer her up after she had miscarried while on a trip to Detroit for his work.
It is titled, Henry Ford Hospital,Edward Hopper paintings and illustrates her anguish at her miscarriage. Frida Kahlo lays naked on a hospital bed her body twisted awkwardly with blood underneath her on the white sheets and various symbolic images seemingly floating around her,Paul Klee paintings tied to her by thin red lines; all this is set in a vast and open landscape, forcing the viewer to view her pain. Kahlo most likely learned her obsessive attention to detail from her father’s lessons on how to retouch and color photographs with tiny brushes, being careful not to overlook even the most obscure, minute part of a picture, making this method of painting natural to her (Herrera 19). The composition of this tiny painting is straightforward and primitivistic .