Frida Kahlo employed an interesting approach in her artworks, she painted herself as a main character in combination with her dreams, hopes and future plans. All significant milestones of Frida’s life were reflected in her art. More depressive and sad moments were filled with Christian symbolism that was changed by animals surrounding her as protectors and companions towards the brighter future.
Frida Kahlo, Self Portrait with Monkeys, 1943
The most iconic self-portrait of Frida was the Self- Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird. The portrait was a symbol of new Frida, new beginning, new life that was hidden in the form of a hummingbird, butterflies and the thorn necklace. It would be so simple if there would not be a black cat depicted that on the contrary symbolizes bad luck in the Mexican culture. The cat presence makes us to reevaluate meaning of the good luck bird. Humming bird can also symbolize the Aztec god of war, that might mean an inner unrest. Butterflies reflect the resurrection or a long therapy period after serious car accident Frida has suffered through, whereas the thorn necklace draws parallels to crucified Jesus.
Frida Kahlo, Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, 1940
Matthias Grünewald, Christ on Cross, 1470-1528, originally on the other side of the panel known as the Tauberbischofsheim altarpiece
Another painting connected to symbols of crucifixion and resurrection is The Little Dear where Frida paints a deer with her face who is wounded by arrows. Parallels can be drawn with Andrea Mantegna’s Saint Sebastian painting.
The Wounded Deer, Frida Kahlo, 1946
Saint Sebastian, Andrea Mantegna, 1431-1506