ProvenanceDr. Samuel Fastlicht, gifted from artist as payment
Private Collection, United States
ExhibitionMexico City, Mexico, Galeria Arvil. Cinco mujeres: Leonora Carrington, María Izquierdo, Frida Kahlo, Alice Rahon, Remedios Varo. 1995.
Japan, The Bunkamura Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan; Suntory Museum, Osaka, Japan; Nagoya City Art Museum, Nagoya, Japan; The Museum of Art, Kochi, Japan. Women Surrealists in Mexico, 2003–2004.
Villeneuve-d'Ascq, France, Musée d'art moderne de Lille metropole. Mexique-Europe: Allers-Retours 1910-1960, 2004.
...More... London, United Kingdom, Tate Modern. Frida Kahlo. June 9 – October 9, 2005
Puerto Rico, Museo de Arte de Ponce. Frida Kahlo y sus mundos. Nov 19, 2005 – Feb 26, 2006.
Hamburg, German, Bucerius Kunst Forum. Frida Kahlo, 2006.
Minneapolis, USA, Walker Art Center. Frida Kahlo. Oct 27, 2007–Jun 14, 2008
Manchester, United Kingdom, Manchester Art Gallery. Angels of Anarchy: Women Artists and Surrealism, Sept 26, 2009 – Jan 10, 2010
Berlin, Germany, Gropius Bau. Frida Kahlo: Retrospective, April 30 to August 9, 2010
Germany, Kunsthalle Würth. Mexicanidad : Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, Francisco Toeldo, Adolfo Riestra. April 28 – Sept 16, 2012
Ontario, Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario. Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting. Oct 20, 2012 – Jan 20, 2013.
Paris, France, Musée de l'Orangerie. Frida Kahlo/ Diego Rivera. L’art en fusion. Oct 09, 2013 – Jan 13, 2014.
New York, USA, New York Botanical Garden. Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life. May 16 – Nov 1, 2015.
Saint Petersburg, Russia, Faberge Museum. Frida Kahlo: Paintings and Graphic Art From Mexican Collections. Feb 03 – April 30, 2016
Seoul, South Korea, Seoul Arts Center. Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. May 28 – Aug 28, 2016.
Paris, France, Grand Palais. México 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde. Oct 6, 2016 – Jan 23, 2017
Dallas, USA, Dallas Museum of Art. México 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde. March 12 – July 16, 2017.
Dallas, USA, Dallas Museum of Art. Frida Kahlo: Five Works. March 7 – June 20, 2021
UPCOMING: Assen, Netherlands, Drents Museum. Viva la Frida! Oct 8, 2021 – March 27, 2022
LiteratureZamora, Martha, Frida, El Pincel de la Angusta. Mexico. 1987, p. 358.
Grimberg, Kettenmann, Prignitz-Poda, Helga. Frida Kahlo: Das Gesamtwerk. Frankfurt: Verl Neue Kritik, 1988, p. 168.
Herrera, Hayden. Frida Kahlo: The Paintings. México. 1991, p. 205.
Herrera, Hayden. Frida Kahlo Die Gemalde. Germany. 1992, p. 112.
Glusberg, Jorge. Das Vanguardas Ao Fim Do Milenio. Portugal. 1999, p. 71.
Nonaka, Masayo and Hirome Sone. Women Surrealists in Mexico. Japan. 2003, p. 96.
Fauchereau, Serge et al. Mexique-Europe: Allers-Retours 1910-1960. France. 2004, p. 96.
Arteaga, Agustin, Nadia Ugalde Gomez and Juan Rafael Coronel Rivera . Frida Kahlo y sus mundos. Puerto Rico. 2005, p. 37.
Dexter, Emma. Frida Kahlo. London: Tate Modern. 2005, p. 168.
Muller, Karsten and Ortrud Westheider. Frida Kahlo. Germany, p. 137.
Zamora, Martha. Frida, El Pincel de la Angustia. México: Marta Zamora, 2007, p. 360.
Grimberg, Solomon. Frida Kahlo – The Still Lifes. Merrell, USA. 2008, p. 105
Carpenter, Elizabeth. Frida Kahlo. Minneapolis, Walker Art Center. 2007, p. 218.
Allmer, Patricia. Angels of Anarchy: Women Artists and Surrealism. Prestel, London. 2008, p. 141.
Prignitz-Poda, et al. Frida Kahlo: Retrospective. Prestel, Munich, New York. 2010, p. 173.
Tuer, Dot and Elliot King. Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting. Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada. 2013, p. 75.
Weber, C. Sylvia and Kunsthalle Wurth. Mexicanidad : Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, Francisco Toeldo, Adolfo Riestra. Swiridoff, Germany. 2012, p. 62
Vial, Marie-Pauel. Frida Kahlo et Diego Rivera. L'art en fusion. Hazan, France. 2013, p. 126.
Todo el Universo Frida Kahlo El Mundo México, Vogue Mexico y Latinoamerico, Mexico. 2013, p. 127.
Zavala, Adriana and Robert Bye. Frida Kahlo’s Garden. Prestel, USA. 2015, p. 79.
Arteaga, Agustin. México 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde. Dallas Museum of Art. 2017, p. 149.
Kahlo, F., In Lozano, L.-M., & Taschen, B. (2021). Frida Kahlo: The complete paintings.
Few artists have had an impact on so many facets of our culture as Frida Kahlo. Kahlo occupies not only art history but popular culture, easily identifiable as any Hollywood actor or pop star. However, the mythology constructed over the years since her passing have both built and obscured the power Kahlo possessed and the complex expressions in her paintings.
Kahlo lived a turbulent life, diagnosed with polio at six years old and injured in a bus accident at nineteen that forever altered her and caused her to undergo surgeries for the rest of life. Kahlo wryly noted that she suffered two accidents in her life, the first was the bus and the second was meeting her husband, Diego Rivera. Their intense and stormy relationship gave them both support and inspiration as well as anguish.
It was through all this that Kahlo found the reserve to paint. Not strictly a Surrealist as so many assume, Kahlo actively rejected the label, acutely noting that she did not pull from her unconscious or dreams – she pulled from her lived reality. Kahlo developed her own personal visual language to communicate her own experiences. It is from this highly subjective stance that Kahlo was able to create works that could be universally understood. As German theorist Theodor noted, the subjective becomes universal.
Even in her still lifes, Kahlo painted from her own reality. Kahlo has always been in dialogue with art history. With her still life, Kahlo joins a storied tradition including the Golden Age Dutch and Netherlandish painters who included memento mori even amongst beautiful displays. Memento mori is a Latin phrase describing the symbolic reminder of death’s inevitability. Who else would comprehend the fragility of life as well as Frida Kahlo?
As the phrase itself notes, a “still life” creates a permanence where none can exist. Flowers and fruits are subject to decay and rot. Therein lies a tension, what is before the viewer is both everlasting and fleeting.
In this painting, Kahlo develops a complex and beautiful display. The canvas bursts with luscious and exotic fruits, that she has arranged in a thoughtful manner. Like the Old Master painters, Kahlo presents the fruits in different ways from whole delights to cutting away to ripe flesh. The cut fruits give us a fantastical display and in particular, the seeds and pits in the watermelon point to Kahlo’s understanding of how to depict reality in unusual ways. Look closely and you can see the weeping melon where the pendant pierces the flesh, which gives us a carnal reaction to a natural phenomenon. Often obscured in descriptions of Kahlo is that she aspired to working in medicine and had been admitted to the Escuela Nacional Prepatoria before the fateful bus accident. Her interest in natural sciences is shown in her ability to capture the fruits in different states in realistic ways. She would also use this weeping effect in Weeping Coconuts (Cocos gimientes).
The fruits and objects in the painting were also ways for Frida Kahlo to express her Mexican identity – becoming a personal and political act. From the pottery to the exotic fruits and of course to the Mexican flag, Kahlo explores an intricate Mexican identity, a nod to herself and to Samuel Fastlicht for whom she painted this work. Fastlicht was Kahlo’s dentist and friend, and he had made contributions to Pre-Columbian studies in his research of dentistry of that time. The banner in English states “I belong to Samuel Fastlicht. I was painted with great affection by Frida Kahlo in 1951. Coyoacán”. Fastlicht must have been close to Kahlo as she also gave him a second painting, “Self-Portrait in Medallion”.
In addition to noting the relationship of the painting, the inscription positions Kahlo amongst the Renaissance artists like Jan van Eyck. These artists would inscribe their paintings with phrases noting who made the work. In the case of van Eyck, his famed Arnolfini Portrait is inscribed with “Johannes de eyck fuit hic 1434” (“Jan van Eyck was here 1434”). Coyoacán in the inscription alludes Kahlo’s birthplace and where she spent the last thirteen years of her life. This inscription was not a one-off. She used inscriptions in other still lifes. With a simple inscription, Kahlo asserts her ability, her position in art history, her affection to the owner, and her identity.
This painting gives us succulence and life even as we understand that the fruit will decay. We peel away the layers of the painting and see a painter bound by her story but who also transcends it. In looking at this incredible painting more closely, we can understand Frida Kahlo not just through her life but as a painter who could harness her abilities, her life, and her knowledge to create vibrant and intense works of art.
Frida Kahlo photographed by her father, 1932
Frida Kahlo, “Weeping Coconuts (Cocos gimientes)”, 1951, oil on board, Frame: 14 x 16 ¾ in., Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Kahlo used this same weeping effect in “Still Life (‘I Belong to Samuel Fastlight’)”
Frida Kahlo, “Still Life with Parrot and Flag”, 1951, oil on Masonite, 11 x 15 ¾ in.
Frida Kahlo, “Self-Portrait in Medallion”, 1948, oil on Masonite, 19 5/8 x 15 5/ 8 in. Kahlo also gifted this portrait to Samuel Fastlight.
Frida Kahlo in Vogue, photographed by Toni Frissell, 1937
“Still Life (Round)” (1942), oil on copper, 24.8 in. diameter, Frida Kahlo Museum, Mexico City, Mexico