Explore the coincidences between the life and work of two of the most important women artists from Mexico and India.
Amrita Sher-Gil was born in Budapest on January 30, 1913, to an Indian Sikh father, a photographer Umrao Singh Sher-Gil and a Hungarian mother.
Frida Kahlo was born to a German father and a Mexican mother.
Both as young girls, both women were exposed to their respective cultures which vastly enriched their work and self-expression.
Frida's father Guillermo Kahlo Kaufmann, was a photographer, just like Amrita's. Both their fathers often portrayed their respective family members through photography, a style that was easily picked by both daughters. Both artists as young girls freely learnt the art of self-portraiture and went on to develop it as a distinct feature of their respective oeuvre.
For Frida it was common to portray herself and to tell her life story through her paintings. Amrita painted nude self-portraits, also subtly demonstrating the emotional and physical pain she was going through.
This painting is called "The Broken Column", and it represents how damaged her body was after the bus accident.
Amrita had a performative yet playful way to incorporate various Indian attires as part of her identity and persona. She approached saris and other traditional clothing to reveal her charismatic and mysterious side. Frida had a similar approach to clothing as she used used to wear textiles from Mexican indigenous origin, which contributed to her enigma and shaped her personality. For both, this was also a way to share how proud they were about their origins.
Frida died a few days after her 47th birthday, in July 13th, 1954, and a year after her major solo exhibition at the Galería de Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City. Frida’s paintings are considered National Heritage in Mexico.
Amrita and Frida were unconventional women and artists, who left an important mark in the art history of the 20th century.
- "Amrita Sher-Gil: A life", by Yashodhara Dalmia
- "Amrita Sher-Gil. The Passionate Quest", catalogue of the National Gallery of Modern Art collection.
- "Frida Kahlo. An open life", by Raquel Tibol
- "Frida. A biography of Frida Kahlo", by Hayden Herrera.
Image courtesy for some of Amrita Sher-Gil's works hosted under Kiran Nadar Museum of Art's collection:
- From the Estate of Umrao Singh Sher-Gil
- From the Estate of Amrita Sher-Gil
- From Collection: Navina & Vivan Sundaram