Nude, Frida Kahlo
57.5 cm x 42 cm (22 5/8 in. x 16 9/16 in.)
(Guanajuato, Mexico, 1886 - 1957, Mexico City)
Latin America, Mexican
Medium and Support:
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Archer M. Huntington Museum Fund, 1986
This intimate black-and-white print differs in almost every way from the colorful epic murals that made Diego Rivera famous, yet its clear, sure, curvaceous lines are characteristic of his style. Relatively detailed in the foreground and sketchy in the background, the lines build a delicate structure. The modeling, concentrated at the center and foreground, solidifies the head in a way that contrasts with the rest of the drawing. Rivera took advantage of the fine texture of the lithographic stone to create even, soft tones that reveal the curves of the body and the yielding mattress, adding to the picture’s atmosphere of sensuous pleasure.
Whereas Rivera’s public works treat heroic themes of Mexico’s past, present, and future, the subject matter here is intimate. The artist had married Frida Kahlo in 1929, so they were newlyweds when he made this print. Kahlo’s parents called it the marriage of an elephant and a dove: he was 44, hefty, and famous; she was 23, petite, not-yet-famous, and feisty. With obvious admiration, Rivera shows Kahlo as both dainty and strong.