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Self-portrait with monkey

Painting, 1940

Description of the artwork «Self-portrait with monkey»

The oeuvre of Frida Kahlo, one of the most shocking artists of the twentieth century, draws the attention of art connoisseurs with its originality and colour composition. The difficult fate of Frida left a mark on her painting style, as well as her plots. After the terrible car accident, which landed her in bed for a long time, Kahlo decided to learn the fine arts. She painted her works on the stretcher attached to her bed.

Self-portrait became her favourite genre: she looking at herself in the mirror for a long time and analysed Kahlo’s own physical and mental suffering, then transferred the seen to the canvas. This is how the Self-Portrait with Monkey by Kahlo appeared, analysis of which you can find below.

On the canvas, we see a young woman with a monkey peeking out from behind her right shoulder. Thick bushes with large dark green leaves are the background for the models. We can assume that Self-Portrait with Monkey is rather a show picture, as Kahlo painted herself in an elegant dress decorated with a golden border. The expression of the woman’s face is strict and solemn, her gaze is directed at the viewer, but at the same time she looks inside herself. Kahlo’s luxurious black hair is laid in a fancy hairstyle decorated with a bright red ribbon, wrapped around the Frida’s neck like a charm, which connects her with her pet. The animal embraced its mistress with paws, as if seeking protection from her.

There is a specific symbolism in Kahlo’s Self-Portrait with Monkey, just as in other her works. Two years after the accident, she met the famous artist Diego Rivera, who was almost twice older than she. Their relationship was very difficult: Rivera was often away from home, causing Frida to get jealous. The artist splashed her mental torment onto her canvas, depicting herself surrounded by her loved pets – Changito the monkey and Senhor Xolotl the dog. The ribbon decorating the hairstyle and reaching for the animals symbolized not only the connection between the pets and the hostess, connecting them together, but also emphasized the loneliness of Frida Kahlo.

Self-Portrait with Monkey painted in 1940 in the genre of folk art is one of these paintings, telling the viewer of a lonely, but still strong woman. Art historians, admirers of the artist’s talent and true art connoisseurs consider this picture one of the best self-portraits of Kahlo, which she made in her mature creative period.
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About the artwork

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Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Portrait

Technique: Oil

Materials: Wood

Date of creation: 1940

Artwork in selections: 12 selections

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