Introspection: Self-Portraits

How did Frida Kahlo's contemporaries see themselves?

Self-portrait (1948) by Dr. Atl, Gerardo MurilloColección Blaisten

The Act of Self-Portraiture

Self-portraiture is an exercise in self-analysis, in which the traits of an artist's personality are consciously and unconsciously revealed. It is also a way for an artist to immortalize themselves.

Self-Portrait, Olga Costa, 1947, From the collection of: Colección Blaisten
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Self-portrait, Alfonso X. Peña, ca. 1954, From the collection of: Colección Blaisten
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Self-Portrait (1948) by Carlos Orozco RomeroColección Blaisten

The Artist as a Creator

Self-portraits emphasize an artist's work, not only by demonstrating their skill, but also by recognizing them as the creator of their own world and transformation.

Self portrait and Olga Costa, José Chávez Morado, 1947, From the collection of: Colección Blaisten
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Self-Portrait with Blue Shirt, Emilio Baz Viaud, 1941, From the collection of: Colección Blaisten
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Self-portrait (ca. 1940) by Rosa RolandaColección Blaisten

Identity

Artists incorporate elements that define their individuality into their self-portraits.

In the case of Rosa Rolanda, the orchids symbolize femininity because of their resemblance to female genitalia.

Self-Portrait (1941) by Feliciano PeñaColección Blaisten

The brooch that artist Feliciano Peña is grasping with such tenderness symbolizes his pride in his indigenous roots.

Self-portrait (1959) by Dr. Atl, Gerardo MurilloColección Blaisten

Dr. Atl's self-portrait features volcanoes: his passion and obsession.

Self-Portrait (Yellow) (1943) by Alfonso X. PeñaColección Blaisten

The Mexican Fencepost is a type of cactus from the north of Mexico, where Alfonso X. Peña was born. He incorporated the plant into his work to symbolize the fact that, despite having traveled widely, he would never forget where he came from.

Self-Portrait (1940) by María IzquierdoColección Blaisten

Horses were a much-used animal in Olga Costa artworks, and the red shawl is an allusion to Mexico.

Self-portrait (1947) by María IzquierdoColección Blaisten

Reinterpreting the Self

Through the genre of self-portraiture, artists reinterpret themselves to reveal their deepest desires and anxieties.

Self-portrait (1940) by Manuel Rodríguez LozanoColección Blaisten

My Aunt, a Litte Friend, and Me (1942) by María IzquierdoColección Blaisten

María Izquierdo portrayed herself as she was when she was a girl, perhaps remembering one of her fondest memories.

Sorrowful Friday (1944-1945) by María IzquierdoColección Blaisten

In contrast, the same artist also depicted herself as a grieving Virgin, placing herself in the role of a martyr accepting her fate.

Self portrait, Francisco Díaz de León, 1937, From the collection of: Colección Blaisten
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Self-portrait of the Artist as a Teenager (1935) by Emilio Baz ViaudColección Blaisten

Emilio Baz Viaud painted himself as an adolescent, despite the fact that he was, by then, an older man.

Self-portrait (1943) by Manuel González SerranoColección Blaisten

In Manuel González Serrano's self-portrait, you can't help but notice his sorrowful gaze, observing the viewer and almost making you feel that you can penetrate his deepest thoughts.

Si vemos la inscripción podemos percatarnos de que fue un autorretrato hecho en una sola noche.

Self-portrait in Three Acts (Liberated Cry) (ca. 1947) by Manuel González SerranoColección Blaisten

Manuel González Serrano illustrates his own sadness with the tears flowing from this face.

His tears feed the roots of the plants that are growing inside the head, attracting the beautiful butterflies that flutter around it. The insects symbolize the beauty of the ideas that enter his mind.

Puebla de los Ángeles (1952-10-13) by Frida KahloColección Blaisten

Frida Kahlo produced this drawing in the State of Puebla in Mexico. It is one of a small number of Frida's works that are erotic in nature.

Judy, her nurse, looked after her with great tenderness, and the 2 of them even had a love affair. It is for this reason that 3 names are shown in this work, with Judy's appearing between Frida's and Diego's.

Credits: Story

Texts and selection of work: Renata Blaisten

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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