| Self Portrait with [Her Parrot] "Bonito" by Frida Kahlo, 1941
"Frida Kahlo de Rivera (1907-1954; born Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón) was a Mexican painter, born in Coyoacán, and is perhaps best known for her self-portraits.
"Kahlo's life began and ended in Mexico City, in her home known as the Blue House. She gave her birth date as July 7, 1910, but her birth certificate shows July 6, 1907. Kahlo had allegedly wanted the year of her birth to coincide with the year of the beginning of the Mexican revolution so that her life would begin with the birth of modern Mexico. At the age of six, Frida contracted polio, which caused her right leg to appear much thinner than the other. It was to remain that way permanently. Her work has been celebrated in Mexico as emblematic of national and indigenous tradition, and by feminists for its uncompromising depiction of the female experience and form.
"Mexican culture and Amerindian cultural tradition are important in her work, which has been sometimes characterized as Naïve art or folk art.Her work has also been described as "surrealist", and in 1938 André Breton, principal initiator of the surrealist movement, described Kahlo's art as a "ribbon around a bomb."
"Kahlo had a volatile marriage with the famous Mexican artist Diego Rivera. She suffered lifelong health problems, many of which derived from a traffic accident she experienced as a teenager. These issues are represented in her works, many of which are self-portraits of one sort or another. Kahlo suggested, "I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best." She also stated, "I was born a bitch. I was born a painter."
"Birth, death and resurrection are alluded to in the life cycle of the butterfly depicted in Self Portrait with Bonito, 1941. The butterfly is a symbol of the eternal soul in both Christian and Aztec belief."
Compare with Berthe Morisot's
Young Girl with a Parrot
"Kahlo's early experiences of illness including polio at the age of six — which left her with a deformed limb — and her accident [as a teenager] instilled in her a profound sense of her own mortality and the fragility of her body. Her father's epilepsy provided another experience of physical vulnerability. Meditations on death and the inevitability of mortality feature in much of her work. The death of her mother in 1933 and her father in 1941 were momentous events with which she dealt both directly and indirectly in her painting. In Self Portrait with Bonito 1941, painted following the death of her father, Kahlo appears in simple black mourning clothes and with a black braid in her hair. In this circumstance of intense personal loss and the wider context of war in Europe, she maintains a sombre yet stoical gaze."
Self Portrait with Tears and Hummingbird Eyebrows
by Frida Kahlo, pencil on paper, 1946