Self-portrait on the Borderline between Mexico and the United States, 1932

Self-portrait on the Borderline between Mexico and the United States (1932) by Frida KahloDetroit Institute of Arts

Frida Kahlo’s intellectual and artistic interests hinged on examining her personal experiences and asserting her own identity. She wanted to return to Mexico, where her sense of self was rooted.

In this painting, Kahlo depicted herself on the border between two worlds.

On the right, we see the industrialized United States represented by the Ford River Rouge plant, sky scrapers, and modern inventions.

Metal ducts resemble marching figures.

Machinery replaces plant life. The wires creep toward the plant's roots on the other side.

On the left, ancient Mexico is represented with verdant plant life, examples of indigenous art, and Aztec iconography.

Sculptures and fertility figures represent Mexico's ancient cultures and artistic traditions: Jalisco figure, Colima figure and a Totonaca stone skull.

Healthy plants denote life.

Kahlo stands defiantly between the two countries, perhaps asserting herself as a product of both the modern world and ancient heritage.

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