Frida Kahlo's Short Life
Her paintings serve as intimate portraits to who she was. Kahlo is often associated with the surrealist movement, but she rejected this label in her life (Laidlaw 28.) As Laidlaw said, “Kahlo’s goal was to explore herself through painting” (43). Because of her desire, we can have an open look into what was feeling during a particular time. One of her most revealing portraits was Self-Portrait with a Necklace of Thorns. In this portrait we see Kahlo standing against a background of leaves. Kahlo wears her hair up woven with butterfly pins and flying flowers dance above her, but the lower half of the picture is not quite as happy. Kahlo herself wears a necklace made from thorns, and they pierce her neck. From the necklace a black hummingbird hangs dead. On her right shoulder there appears to be a black cat, ready to pounce. On the left, a monkey, often seen in Kahlo’s portraits holds the necklace of thorns. Kahlo uses a lot of symbolism here in order to convey her feelings about Rivera and her’s divorce. The first thing that is noticeable in the portrait is the necklace of thorns. In many of Kahlo’s portraits she wears a large necklace. It is likely that the thorns represent the pain Kahlo feels about her divorce. One interesting part of the painting is the monkey that appears in the left. Many people believe that the monkey in Kahlo’s paintings was symbolic of the child she could not bear (Laidlaw 36.) However, whether or not this is so is not known. Many of Kahlo’s letters suggest ambivalence about having a child. It’s possible that she was torn between wanting a child and being glad she didn’t have one (Mencier 31.) This conflict was might have been experience could be represented in the monkey. The monkey holds the thorns in a way that could inflict pain upon Frida, or free her from the thorns entirely. Another interesting aspect in the painting is the hummingbird hanging from the thorn necklace.