The self-portrait as a mask

Frida's face itself does not openly display the pain and anguish that are present in her work; her stony expression masks all feeling.

The dead tree stump

There is a very dark background covered with leaves on which a dried out tree is painted. It is actually a tree stump, the part of the trunk that remains attached to the roots when the tree is cut down.

The Tehuana dress

Her chosen clothing is an embroidered Tehuana huipil, the traditional dress of indigenous women. This example is made of black velvet.

The hairstyle

The ends of Frida's hair fall loosely behind her, like a veil, while the rest is gathered on top of her head, plaited with a green ribbon. The dull green tone reflects for her the color of the leaves and of sadness.

The unibrow

Above her features is one of Frida's most identifying attributes: her unibrow. It is also thought to resemble a bird with outstretched wings, representing freedom.

The monkey

Frida has a spider monkey as her companion, who appears in eight of her self-portraits. The creatures accompany her, wrap her up, and cross their long arms over her chest.

The brushstrokes

With each delicate brushstroke, Frida portrays every detail of herself and her surroundings. Her palette is dominated by sad, dark, muted, and earthy tones, while the bursts of color in her dress depict pain: the bleeding red of the decorations, and the purple of the ribbons, the same color as her lips.

Zoom Into Frida Kahlo

Click on the dots to see details in 'Self-Portrait With Monkey'


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