Frida Kahlo's Appropriation Of Surrealism

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Frida Kahlo, one of the most well reputed, thoroughly studied, and widely influential artists today, has been comprehensively misunderstood and exploited since before she had achieved international notoriety. Kahlo’s relationship with the surrealist movement is complicated; André Breton and his fellow surrealists considered Kahlo’s paintings to be archetypal surrealist works due to their outlandish imagery and fantastic themes, yet Kahlo herself rejected the title and even disdained certain fundamental aspects of the movement. As an active artist in Mexico in the 1930s and 40s, Kahlo was certainly influenced by surrealism, but the extent of the movements’ appropriation of Kahlo’s artwork, and personhood as a whole, was egregious and entirely …show more content…
The infuriating inaction and emptiness that Kahlo perceived of the surrealists was in stark contrast to her own deeply political life; she and Diego Rivera had a tumultuous relationship with the communist party (and one another) but Kahlo ultimately identified and allied herself with the party’s ideology. This passion for social equality and deep conviction in the importance of nationalism was inextricably tied with Kahlo’s devotion to her motherland, Mexico, and her subsequent interest in the country’s history materialized in her choices in dress and prolific inclusion of indigenous imagery in her …show more content…
Instead of the deeply personal interest in and expression of pre-Columbian imagery, however, the surrealists’ interest was primarily aesthetic, and morally questionable. Keith Jordan explains this hypocrisy, “In her biography of Wolfgang Paalen, Winter summarizes a key paradox of the Surrealists. ‘“The surrealist relationship to non-Western cultures was problematic. On one hand it was radically anticolonialist, opposing the exploitation and oppression of ‘other’ peoples by the dominant powers of Europe. On the other, it practiced its own form of colonization through decontextualization, distortion, and projection of Surrealist fantasies and genders onto ethnographic art and cultures’””. In other words, the surrealists were exploiting marginalized and largely decimated cultures by adapting certain aesthetic relics that they found ‘pure’ in their alleged primitivism, despite their (the surrealists) lack of personal connection to the ancient cultures themselves. Kahlo’s use of indigenous imagery in her paintings was entirely different , and personally suitable, and her paintings could therefore not be considered surrealist based on their inclusion of certain pre-Columbian characteristics. Hi Frances! I think these are strong paragraphs, but they would benefit a lot more if you added

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