Traditionally The wounded Table (1940, oil on canvas, 244 x 122 cm, location unknown) has been compared to The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci; the founders of the Kunstmuseum Gehrke-Remund researched the painting for three years before having it replicated, and have given the work a totally new interpretation.
The wounded Table is a representation of death (as separation), of the disintegration of Frida Kahlo’s mexicanidad and of her search for her own identity.
NOTE: Diego Rivera felt committed to mexicanidad, by which he meant the return to Mexican origins in order for Mexican people to achieve their own social and cultural self-confidence and identity. By marrying Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo followed him in this commitment …....
…more about this story: http://www.mexicolore.co.uk/aztecs/home/frida-kahlos-wounded-table
Please look for more about this painting:
…. and also here:
When Frida Kahlo died in 1954, Diego Rivera (her husband) established that the room with her wardrobe should remain locked for 50 years.
In April 2004 this room was opened and many pieces of her wardrobe were found, this allowed the Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico to recreate and partly to repair Frida Kahlo dresses and underwear.
The opening of the room and the process of identifying her clothes was described in a book: “Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress. The Fashion of Frida Kahlo”. 2008.
The famous blouses of Frida are called “Huipile” (= blouse). The Huipile is a garment worn by the Maya women in southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Western Honduras. Today it is still worn in the area of the isthmus of Tehuantapec, Southern Mexico
The Isthmus of Tehuantepec provides the shortest route over land between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean.
Before the construction of the Panama Canal this was the main traffic artery, and it was known as the Tehuantepec route. Geographically, the isthmus separates North - from Central America.
The Huipile is a garment with great personal and communication power. The pattern of the Huipile reveals the location, the social and family status, the religious background of the woman who wears it. It also makes statements about faith and prosperity. The Huipile is a testimony of the highest Mayan weaving art.
Huipiles are usually made of two or three layers of fabric connected with decorative embroidery. They are then folded and sewn together, with an opening left in the middle for the head. Each Huipile (blouse) and Falta (skirt) is unique. Flower motifs are embroidered by hand. The geometric patterns are hand-woven.
If a woman is lucky, she owns one or two Huipiles to wear daily. Often she owns another Huipile for special occasions such as weddings, festivals and religious ceremonies.
A woman has only a very limited number of Huipiles throughout her life. A well woven Huipile can be worn for 20 to 30 years. Then, when the Huipile can no longer be worn, it is divided into small pieces of cloth and used as a carpet or sown into a quilt.
The Maya art of weaving went almost lost in recent years. Today, however, weaving cooperatives have been founded to revive the Mayan art again. Moreover studies are conducted to preserve the knowledge of the old methods of weaving and colouring the textiles. The use of specific patterns is sacred, as they are related to the "holy dreams of the girls”. For the Mayas, dreams were of great importance, they believed that dreams conveyed messages from the spiritual world.
The Huipiles (blouses) in the exhibition of the Kunstmuseum Gehrke-Remund are original from Mexico. They are exactly in the style as Frida Kahlo used to wear and to paint.
The black and gold Huipile in the exhibition is original from Oaxaca, a rare piece from the period 1920-1930.
Source: from the lecture: "The Dresses of Frida: Meaning, History and Secrets."
Dr. M.C. Remund, Kunstmuseum Gehrke-Remund, Baden-Baden, 2009.
The evolution of Frida Kahlo, from girl of good family to young spouse of Diego Rivera to becoming the most famous female artist of all times, can be followed in her art and her fashion.
The Frida Kahlo collection shows, through vintage photographs, the evolution of Frida’s style, and over 30 dresses as Frida used to wear and paint starting in 1940 when she was 33 years old.
Photos of Frida Kahlo and her family, taken by her father Wilhelm Kahlo, show that Frida came from a conservative family where the girls wore dresses in sailor style, ribbons in the hair and patent leather shoes.
As a young 18 year old woman, she dresses in a conservative fashion with a silk garment and white socks.
Meeting Diego Rivera brought a change in her style, and Frida Kahlo started to wear simple traditional Mexican dresses combined with extraordinary Maya necklaces and elaborated earrings, which Diego gave her as a present.
Over the years, Frida selected the Tehuana blouses (huipils) and dresses of the strong women of the Tehuantepec region as her favourite attire.
Photographic documentation illustrates that, starting in 1940 with the second marriage to Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo wears more exclusive, elaborate Huipils originated in small villages in the regions around Oaxaca, Guerrero and Puebla.
These dresses are a testimony of how Frida style became richer, more colourful and decorated, as with these highly embroderied dresses she wanted to hide the increasing disintegration of her body.
The dresses in the Kunstmuseum Gehrke-Remund collection already a rarity in the 1940’s, are the result of months long research from the Museum-Curators. Each piece is an original made in the villages in South Mexico where they were hand-vowen, hand embroidered by the ethnic women who still live in these villages.
Each piece in the collection has a unique story, here below are some of my favourite, not only because of the story connected to Frida wearing the identical dress, but also because of the story of finding them and showing them for the first time in the Museum in Baden-Baden, Germany.
Huipil from Huautla de Jiménez with black skirt as Frida Kahlo wore for her second wedding in San Francisco, 1940. This is an extremely rare cotton Huipil, hand embroidered with wool, decorated with lace, coloured satin ribbons, usually pink and blue.
The garment is divided into three squares at the top and three at the bottom. On the chest and on the back flowers and real size birds are embroidered. The neckline is adorned with a large collar of tulle and satin ribbons alternating blue and pink. Ribbons and lace decorate the sleeves.
The original Huipil is worn with a white cotton skirt with embroidered birds at the end of the skirt hold tightly at the waist with a large red cotton belt. Frida Kahlo used to wear it with a long black skirt.
Huautla de Jiménez (the name means “eagle nest”) is a village at 1700 mt with 30’000 inhabitants in the Mazatec region. It is seven hours journey by bus from Oaxaca on winding mountain roads.
# 72: Frida Kahlo, Self Portrait with Cropped Hair, 1940, # 82: Frida Kahlo, Self Portrait with Braid, 1941; Licensed replica: ©Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2008
Huipil from Jalapa de Diaz with red-ruby skirt as Frida wore in a photo session with Leo Matiz, famous VIP photographer, 1940.
This is a very sophisticated and richly decorated Huipil made of green silk material embroidered with flowers in red.
The embroideries not always represent stylized plants or birds, the style varies from family to family. A large white lace collar cut in a round shape adorns the neck.
The Huipil is made of three sections, each section always ends with a white lace, the sleeves are made of the same lace material.
Jalapa de Diaz (the name means “in the sand”) is a village with 26000 inhabitants in the Mazatec region. It is five hours drive from Oaxaca.
Antique Rebozo made in Tenancingo, provenience: Mexico City, 1827.
This is a rebozo as Frida Kahlo used to wear and paint.
It is a loom woven scarf in deep blue (indigo), white wool and cotton with a very long elaborate knotted fringe.
Tenancingo, South West of Mexico City, is best noted for the production of robozos, being documented as early as 1790.
Photo: # 83: Frida Kahlo, Portrait of Lucha Maria, A Girl from Tehuacan, 1942; Licensed replica © Banco de México Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2008
“Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress: The Fashion of Frida Kahlo” by Carlos Phillips Olmedo, Denise Rosenzweig, Magdalena Rosenzweig and Teresa del Conde (2008).
Author: Dr. Mariella Remund
60 years ago on July 13th, in the first hours of the morning when everyone was sleeping in the Blue House, Frida Kahlo died in her Casa Azul in Coyoacán, Mexico City.
It seems that shortly before her death she prepared herself to let go: a few days before Frida died she gave Diego a ring as a gift for their 25th wedding anniversary. When Diego asked why she was giving it to him so early instead of waiting for the anniversary date of August 21st, Frida replied "because I feel I am going to leave you very soon".
Six days before dying she managed to get up from her bed and write on a painting with watermelons: “Frida Kahlo, Coyoacán 1954 Mexico” and the iconic “Viva la Vida”.
This is the last painting Frida signed and this is the last message she wanted us to have: VIVA LA VIDA!
No matter how arduous and painful life can be, Frida message is a celebration of life, indeed she lived her life to the fullest, never letting the circumstances have the best of her. Once she wrote: “the meaning of life is to live”, and she just did that against all odds.
Her last entry in her diary was:
“Espero alegre la salida y espero no volver jamás",
I hope the exit is joyful and I hope never to return - Frida.
Painting left: #135: Frida Kahlo, Self Portrait with Stalin, 1954, Oil on masonite, 59 x 39 cm,
Painting right: #137: Frida Kahlo, Viva la Vida, Watermelons, 1954, Oil on masonite, 59,5 x 50,8 cm. Licensed replica by ©Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2008.
Photo taken in the Kunstmuseum Gehrke-Remund, Baden-Baden, Germany
Photo: (c) Kunstmuseum Gehrke-Remund, Germany
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera
25 years of passion of two artists larger than life Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera were married from 1929 to 1939 for the first time, and a second time from 1940 till Frida Kahlo’s death in 1954.
The years together were marked by passion and pain that these two great artists felt for each other. The influence of Diego on Frida’s life is indisputable:
He influenced her paintings, her way of dressing and presenting herself as an Aztec Queen.
Frida was eventually Diego’s soul mate, but he realized it only after her death.
Frida wrote in her diary:
“Diego is the name of Love”.
Diego wrote in his autobiography:
“July 13th 1954 was the saddest day of my life. I lost forever my beloved Frida… too late I realized that my love for her was the most wonderful part of my life”.
Painting: # 27: Frieda and Diego Rivera, 1931; licensed replica: ©Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2008
Miguel Gleason, Director of the documentaries: Mexico in Spain, Mexico in Italy, in Germany and in Europe called the exhibition in Baden-Baden: "a secret and mysterious place".
The series of documentaries have been sponsored by CONACULTA (Mexican Ministry of Culture) to document and record Mexican treasures in European museums.
In the documentary: Mexico in Germany and Austria, three highlights are shown: the headdress of Montezuma (currently in the Museum of Ethnology in Vienna), the Maya Codex (in the Sächsische Landesbibliothek in Dresden), and the Frida Kahlo Exhibition (Kunstmuseum Gehrke-Remund, Baden-Baden) currently on loan in San Diego (*).
The documentaries are meant to be distributed to all schools, universities, libraries, museums in Mexico.
(*) the 123 replicas are licensed by © Banco de Mexico, Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust/ VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2008
Author: Dr. Mariella Remund
One of over 200 photos of the collection.
"Nada vale mas que la risa." Frida Kahlo
"Nothing is worth more than laughter.
It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light. Tragedy is the most ridiculous thing.” Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo’s bed is probably the most iconic piece of furniture in her house. Frida painted her bed (in “The Dream” or “The Bed”, 1940, Painting #76) and appeared on it at her first and last solo exhibition in Mexico City. She even died in the same bed. In Julie Taymor’s 2002 film “Frida”, the bed is used as a recurring theme associated with the artist.
The canopy bed with ceiling mirror presented in the Frida Kahlo Exhibition has been meticulously reproduced in size and materials and the reconstuction of her bedroom includes a variety of photographs that adorned her walls. These photographs are an interesting representation of Frida’s personal and political beliefs.
One photo displays the portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao and is of particular historical interest as it illustrates Frida Kahlo political convictions.
Numerous photographs document Frida Kahlo in her bedroom over the years; this has allowed the Curators of the exhiition to faithfully reproduce a section of her bedroom as it was when Frida Kahlo lived in the Blue House. This includes a gold watch hanging from her bed, the Amuzco embroidered bedcover, books, colored glass beads, small Maya sculpture and Mexican handicraft works.
The other night my boyfriend came into my bedroom through the window because my parents do not want him, but suddenly they came because they heard our noise. I dedicate this to San Ramón Nonato who made the miracle that they did not realize that my boyfriend was hiding behind the bed and believed the story that it was my cat that made the noise. Salazar Luiciana, Tamaulipas 1940
La otra noche mi novio entró a mi recamara por la ventana porque mis papás no lo quieren pero de repente ellos entraron porque escucharon nuestros ruidos. Dedico este retablito a San Ramón Nonato porque me hizo el milagro de que ellos no se dieran cuenta que mi novio estaba escondido detras de la cama y se creyeron el cuento que era mi gatito el que hizo ruidos. Luiciana Salazar, Tamaulipas 1940
Frida Kahlo &
Culture in Mexico
Ex-Voto is a Spanish word meaning “votive offering”.
"Ex-Voto" paintings are Catholic religious paintings that became very popular in the Mexican religious culture in the 19th century. They are usually small: 30 x 20 cm and painted mostly on wood or metal.
Ex-Votos are images offered to a saint or the Madonna as a thank you for an answered prayer. In most cases, the Ex-Voto is signed by the supplicant and dated, and explains why the giver is giving thanks. In many cases, they tell a very touching personal story which is why they are so fascinating. The Ex-Voto is most often left at a church altar. They are very public, yet very personal, professions of faith in God and thanks for favors received.
The most common reason for thanks is health, with many Ex-Votos dedicated after operations. Survival of accidents is another reason, but almost any subject is sufficient to justify creating one, from finding a missing farm animal to helping to find a spouse.
The tradition of votive painting was brought to the Mexico by Spanish conquerors.
At the end of the 18th century, tin plate became widely available in Mexico and thus, Mexican folk painters discovered a new surface medium for their paintings. Because tinplate was so cheap, the practice of offering votive paintings to Jesus, Mary or one’s favorite saint became very common in Mexico,
Ex-Votos are a wonderful and unique expression of Mexican culture.
"Ex-Voto" paintings include three elements:
1) a scene illustrating a tragedy or someone with a grave illness or injury;
2) a Saint or martyr that intervened to save the person, and
3) the description of the event usually at the bottom of the Ex-Voto.
Frida Kahlo and Diego Riveras had a collection of more than 1000 Ex-Votos which can be seen in the Blue House in Mexico City.
We can see the influence of the "Ex-Voto" style of painting in some of Frida's works.
Frida would often take elements from these votive paintings to create her own style of Ex-Voto in her paintings.
The Ex-Voto (Frida called it “Retablo”) Nr. 70 in the exhibition is an example of an Ex-Voto Frida bought because it resembled her own tragic bus accident of 1925, then painted her own head (with the famous uni-brow) over the Ex-Voto, and changed the name of the destination of the bus “Coyoacan”
Frida Kahlo paintings "My Birth" Nr.34, "My Nanny and I" Nr. 47 and "The Suicide of Dorothy Hale" Nr. 63 are typical examples of Frida style Ex-Voto.
Paintings left to right:
# 34: My Birth, 1932, # 47: My Nurse and I, 1937, # 63: The Suicide of Dorothy Hale, 1938-39
licensed replica: ©Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2008
Frida Kahlo painted " A few small Nips" in 1935 to illustrate her feelings towards her husband affair with her sister Cristina.
The painting in essence illustrates how easily and lightly Diego mortally hurt her. In the painting the injuries are physically deadly, in Frida's case the mortal pain is emotional (“I have been murdered by life” wrote Frida in one of her letters.)
The painting also shows how this deadly pain inflicted is considered, by the perpetrator (i.e. Diego) irrelevant, not important, just “a few small nips”.
We know that Frida Kahlo often worked on her paintings over the years, adding items and always strengthening her statement. “A Few Small Nips” is an example of this development which we can follow from the photos taken between 1935 and 1948 since she kept this painting in her Blue House.
Painting: Frida Kahlo, A few small Nips, 1935; Licensed replica: ©Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2008.
Originally the painting had a normal wooden frame in brown colour and few blood spots; over time she added a small bamboo bird cage on the top left, to match exactly the white dove, which now is inside the cage. As we see from the photo and the reconstruction we made of the cage in the painting, the door of the cage is slightly open but not enough to allow the dove to fly away and be free.
This imagery of being prisoner of her love for Diego can be also found in the Painting Nr. 87: “Diego in my thoughts”.
She also planted a knife on the frame of the painting, a reminder of how much Diego hurt her.
Over the years she kept adding blood on the painting, she painted the frame in red-blood, and added blood-coloured spots on the frame as well.
She also stabbed and damaged the frame with the knife; every knife mark was a reminder of the pain Diego inflicted her with his “irrelevant” affairs.
The painting “A few small Nips” must be shown in its completeness, as Frida had it in display in her studio: with the cage and the knife, to be able to understand the full meaning Frida gave this painting.