World art includes many examples of works by great masters who are known to descendants. One of these artists is the Mexican Frida Kahlo. Most of her work is devoted to herself since she spent a long time alone. In the works of Kahlo, not only the influence of popular Mexican culture and art can be traced but also European painting. Her pictures are naive and simple, but these properties distinguish the artist from many of her contemporaries.
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The fans of Kahlo value her work “Self-Portrait Dedicated to Dr. Eloesser.” This painting occupies one of the most significant places in the artist’s creative biography and is known to many admirers of her talent. The expressive image depicted on the canvas brightly conveys the identity of the master and her manner of painting. It is supposed that social, political, and economic factors had a significant impact on Kahlo’s work on the whole and the mentioned picture in particular.
Social Context of Creating the Artwork
The considered self-portrait is one of the most famous works of Frida Kahlo for the entire period of her creative activity. It was painted in 1940 and, as it becomes clear from the title, was dedicated to one of the artist’s good friends (Self-portrait, dedicated to Dr. Eloesser, 1940 by Frida Kahlo n.d.). Those visual images that the audience can observe in the picture underscore the artist’s mood and her perception of the world at a particular stage of her creative path.
The time of work on the canvas had a significant effect on the result. When paying attention to the details of the self-portrait, it is possible to see a rough necklace on the woman’s neck, which clearly indicates her suffering and feelings (Self-portrait, dedicated to Dr. Eloesser, 1940 by Frida Kahlo n.d.). It was during these years that the artist began to face serious health problems. She could not leave her house and, despite the popularity that appeared, had to spend much time at home (Ketenmann 2003). At that time, she divorced and often suffered from loneliness and was forced to seek expression of her feelings in painting. Her self-portrait became the means to tell society about her experiences and fears.
Political Context of Creating the Artwork
When considering the painting of Kalo from the point of view of the political context, some events also influenced her work. In particular, the woman’s acquaintance with the Russian revolutionary Trotsky in 1937 was a significant stage in her life (Frida Kahlo: biography n.d.). For a while, he lived in the house of the artist and her husband, and a romantic relationship arose between Trotsky and Kalo. However, soon, they had to break down because of the excessive attachment of the revolutionary to his new Mexican passion, and all these political controversies also had an impact on the artist’s activities.
Kahlo did not participate in any state actions. Nevertheless, the political situation in the world was unstable, and the Second World War had already begun by the time of work on the self-portrait. Dark colors on the canvas can indicate the depressive mood of the artist, which was probably not only because of her depression but also anxiety about the situation in the world. Moreover, Kahlo resorted to some political motives in her paintings, for instance, mentioning Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime in general (Frida Kahlo: Mexican painter n.d.). Therefore, such a context can also be taken into account when evaluating her work.
Economic Context of Creating the Artwork
Kahlo became widely known to the public closer to the end of her career. Work on the self-portrait coincided in time with the period when the artist’s paintings were in demand at various exhibitions. According to Kaiser (2012, p. 89), Kahlo’s pictures were valued for “her own unique sense of style and representation.” Such public recognition did not go unnoticed, and Kahlo began to work more actively not only to stop her depression state but also to earn more money.
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Even today, exhibitions dedicated to the artist regularly pass. Organizers create dummies dressed in those clothes that were typical for the artist’s work, show her paintings and collections of objects dedicated to her (Frida Kahlo: making herself up 2018). Particular attention is paid to her self-portrait as one of the most vivid and expressive works that had a significant impact on the formation of a special and unique genre of painting. During her life, the artist’s works did not cost much, but they allowed her to earn money. Today, the price of the painting under the authorship of Frida Kahlo is estimated high.
A number of social, political and, economic factors had a significant influence on the formation of the Mexican artist’s style and, in particular, her famous self-portrait. The mood of the painter and her experiences can be traced based on her manner of painting. Frida Kahlo is known today as the author of the unique style of painting, and her works are regularly presented at major world exhibitions.
Frida Kahlo: biography n.d. Web.
Frida Kahlo: making herself up 2018. Web.
Frida Kahlo: Mexican painter n.d. Web.
Kaiser, SB 2012, Fashion and cultural studies. Bloomsbury, London.
Ketenmann, A 2003, Frida Kahlo: pain and passion, Cologne, Germany.