Monday, August 4, 2014

Surrealism (pt. 3)

In 1929, Diego Rivera married the young and developing artist Frida Kahlo, who had been an admirer of the Mexican muralist's work as well as his political views.  Shortly after, Kahlo painted a wedding portrait in which she and her husband stand stiffly, hand in hand, looking at viewers with formality and rigidity.  Their faces show no joy and contain an uncertainty about the future.  This portrait, along with the numerous photographs of the pair, would become a famous, or infamous, symbol of the couple's relationship.  It was public knowledge that their marriage was marked by bitter quarrels and numerous affairs.  Ten years later, the two divorced but then remarried the following year, in 1940.
Frida Kahlo was a lifelong sufferer of medical problems.  As a child she had contracted polio and was left, as a result, with damaged legs (probably the reason why she is always seen wearing long dresses in her photographs).  In 1925 the young artist was involved in a horrific bus accident that severely injured her and would bind her to frequent hospitalization for the rest of her life.  With a broken spine and pelvis, not only was Kahlo frequently confined to bed and unable to move easily, but she lived in almost constant pain.  Furthermore, the injuries she sustained left her unable to successfully give birth; although she conceived three times, each pregnancy was terminated as a result of her medical condition.
The artist also had, most famously, a unibrow which she personally thought ugly.  It's included in all of her self-portraits as a humbling and self-deprecating reminder of her own presumed unattractiveness, another expression of the pain she felt within her medical and sheer human condition.
Kahlo used art to express her own personal feelings.  This is Expressionism, but her works often include fantasy-like images that really make her the first Surrealist woman artist.  With her art, she rose to prominence at a time when few women were taken seriously.  She mainly created self-portraits (conducive to self-expression), and she often painted solely as a function through which to express her pain.  Sometimes she painted herself as being calm and content, while other times she revealed profound physical anguish in her artwork.  Often painting in hospitals and frequently bedridden, Kahlo had to paint lying down with a special easel that was fitted to the bed and a mirror with which to look at herself.

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