Frida Kahlo – Hammer and Sickle (and unborn baby)

 

“They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.” – Frida Kahlo

Perhaps no other question, made up of only three words, can confound an audience as well as this: What is art? The idea of an artist, as opposed to an artisan, is a recent convention and even newer still the notion of art for the sake of art. For centuries, art has carried utilitarian purposes – the murals of a Roman villa, the altarpiece of a church, the portrait painting.

In the 20th century new ideas of what could be counted as art emerged with the conception of the readymade. Coined by French Dada artist Marcel Duchamp, the readymade describes artwork made from already manufactured objects. Since his seminal Bicycle Wheel in 1913, a wheel mounted in a stool, artists have turned to already manufactured objects to create art. From Duchamp’s urinal to Tracey Emin’s unmade bed, the readymade has challenged our notions of what art is while providing layered meanings to the artwork.

With this in mind, we turn to Frida Kahlo’s corset. It is not merely an artifact of her life but a fully-fledged objet d’art. It is her personal cast which she transformed into a painted sculpture. She wore these plaster corsets as her spine was too weak to support itself due to the bus accident in which she was gravely injured at the age of nineteen. During her recovery, she picked up painting, her salvation from the pain and surgeries she would endure for the rest of her life. With an object this intimate and crucial, it is natural that she transformed them into expressions of herself. She covered this piece in her own beliefs and symbols, exploding with her vocabulary of color. Thus, the cast supported Kahlo, physically and metaphorically, as a vessel through which she could channel her voice.

  • Kahlo-Post-Images1
    (from left:) Marcel Duchamp, “Bicycle Wheel”, 1951 (third version, after lost original of 1913), Metal wheel mounted on painted wood stool. 51 x 25 x 16 ½ in. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. / Tracey Emin, “My Bed”, 1998
  • Kahlo-Post-Images2
    Installation image of “Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up” at the Victoria and Albert Museum, 2018
  • Kahlo-Post-Images3
    (from left): Frida Kahlo’s corset / Frida Kahlo painting one of her corsets

Recent exhibitions such as Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up demonstrated that Kahlo’s clothing and outerwear were ways through which she could craft and exert her identity. Long before artists like Gilbert and George or Grayson Perry constructed their identity through clothing, Kahlo understood the power of her image. The corset has an added layer of power as she specifically painted it with symbols important to her including the politically potent hammer and sickle.

As fellow Mexican artist, Gabriel Orozco commented on his own readymade, “it was a combination between disappointment and amusement. Between surprise and skepticism.” There sits a tension between the viewer and the readymade. With Frida’s corset, the most compelling aspect of it as a readymade is that it surrounds a negative space that was once occupied by Kahlo. We are left to grapple with a practical item whose outline hints at the physical body of Frida Kahlo and through painting its surface, she has left her metaphorical spirit. In transforming a functional and necessary object, Kahlo joined a lineage of readymade artists.

Inquire

Image Gallery

Art Detail

This artwork is no longer available.
Please contact the gallery for more information.

Current Exhibitions

Sir Winston Churchill: Making Art, Making History
February 20 - May 31, 2024
Palm Desert, CA
Discovering Creativity: American Art Masters
January 10 - March 17, 2024
Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens - West Palm Beach, FL
Ansel Adams: Affirmation of Life
December 1, 2023 - June 30, 2024
Palm Desert, CA
Picasso: Beyond the Canvas
October 4, 2023 - April 30, 2024
Palm Desert, CA
No Other Land: A Century of American Landscapes
September 21, 2023 - March 31, 2024
Palm Desert, CA
Art of the American West: A Prominent Collection
August 24, 2023 - February 29, 2024
Palm Desert, CA
Alexander Calder: Shaping a Primary Universe
August 23, 2023 - February 29, 2024
Palm Desert, CA
Andy Warhol: All is Pretty
August 17, 2023 - February 29, 2024
Jackson Hole, WY
Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams: Modern Art, Modern Friendship
July 13, 2023 - April 30, 2024
Palm Desert, CA
Florals for Spring, Groundbreaking
May 8, 2023 - February 29, 2024
Palm Desert, CA
First Circle: Circles in Art
February 14, 2023 - February 29, 2024
Palm Desert, CA
Your Heart’s Blood: Intersections of Art and Literature
September 12, 2022 - March 31, 2024
Palm Desert, CA
Meeting Life: N.C. Wyeth and the MetLife Murals
July 18, 2022 - March 31, 2024
Palm Desert, CA
Andy Warhol Polaroids: Wicked Wonders
December 13, 2021 - March 31, 2024
Palm Desert, CA
California Here We Come: The California Impressionists
July 12, 2021 - March 31, 2024
Palm Desert, CA
Herb Alpert: The Coffee Paintings
December 22, 2020 - March 31, 2024
Jackson Hole, WY
Pattern and Decoration: Feminism and Friendship
September 14, 2020 - March 31, 2024
Palm Desert, CA
Max Pellegrini: Silence and Fantasy
July 30, 2020 - March 31, 2024
Jackson Hole, WY
Moment to Moment: Figuration and the Northern California Avant Garde
May 12, 2020 - March 31, 2024
San Francisco, CA
Jewish Modernism Part 1: Abstraction from Gottlieb to Schnabel
April 23, 2020 - March 31, 2024
New York, NY
Still Life, Still
April 10, 2020 - April 30, 2024
Palm Desert, CA
Jae Kon Park: Life and Root
March 12, 2020 - March 31, 2024
Palm Desert, CA
Irving Norman: Dark Matter
November 27, 2019 - March 31, 2024
Palm Desert, CA

2023

Figurative Masters of the Americas
January 4 - February 12, 2023
Palm Desert, CA
Pop Art: Can't Buy My Love
January 26 - October 31, 2023
Palm Desert, CA

2022

Abstract Expressionism: Transcending the Radical
January 12, 2022 - January 31, 2023
Palm Desert, CA
Georgia O’Keeffe and Marsden Hartley: Modern Minds
February 1, 2022 - February 28, 2023
Palm Desert, CA
Alexander Calder: Painting the Cosmos
March 2 - August 12, 2022
Palm Desert, CA
My Own Skin: Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera
June 16 - December 31, 2022
Palm Desert, CA
Josef Albers: The Heart of Painting
May 12 - November 30, 2022
Palm Desert, CA
Alexander Calder: A Universe of Painting
August 10, 2022 - August 31, 2023
Palm Desert, CA
More to Life: Impressionist Dialogues from Monet and Beyond
August 17, 2022 - August 31, 2023
Palm Desert, CA
Claude Monet: An Impressionist Genius
August 18 - October 31, 2022
Jackson Hole, WY
Marc Chagall: The Color of Love
September 8 - October 12, 2022
Jackson Hole, WY
Jackson Hole - Top Works
September 15 - October 15, 2022
Jackson Hole, WY
Impressionism at Heather James Fine Art
September 1 - October 31, 2022
Jackson Hole, WY
Picasso - Prints and Works on Paper
September 1 - October 12, 2022
Jackson Hole, WY
N.C. Wyeth: A Decade of Painting
September 29, 2022 - March 31, 2023
Palm Desert, CA
A Sparkling Holiday: Art for Everyone
December 15, 2022 - January 7, 2023
Palm Desert, CA

2021

American Eye: Selections from the Pardee Collection
February 28 - December 31, 2021
Palm Desert, CA
Mercedes Matter: A Miraculous Quality
March 22, 2021 - June 30, 2022
Palm Desert, CA
It Was Acceptable in the 80s
April 27, 2021 - August 31, 2023
Palm Desert, CA
Everyone Needs a Fantasy: Pop Art in America
June 7, 2021 - January 31, 2023
Palm Desert, CA
A Beautiful Time: American Art in the Gilded Age
June 24, 2021 - August 31, 2023
Palm Desert, CA
All We Have Seen: Impressionist Landscapes from Monet to Kleitsch
August 9, 2021 - September 30, 2022
Jackson Hole, WY
Elaine and Willem de Kooning: Painting in the Light
August 3, 2021 - January 31, 2022
Palm Desert, CA
Sculpture for the Senses: Outdoor Sculpture
August 4, 2021 - February 28, 2023
Palm Desert, CA
James Rosenquist: Potent Pop
June 7, 2021 - January 31, 2023
Palm Desert, CA
Subtle Opulence
September 8, 2021 - August 31, 2022
Palm Desert, CA
Abstract Expressionism: The Persistent Women
November 1, 2021 - August 31, 2022
Palm Desert, CA
Moore! Moore! Moore! Henry Moore and Sculpture
March 3, 2021 - April 30, 2022
Palm Desert, CA
Andy Warhol: Glamour at the Edge
October 27, 2021 - September 30, 2023
Palm Desert, CA

2020

The Californians
February 3 - August 31, 2020
Montecito, CA
Jewels of Impressionism and Modern Art
February 19 - October 31, 2020
Palm Desert, CA
Mesa Modern
February 13 - February 29, 2020
Palm Desert, CA
Norman Zammitt: The Progression of Color
March 19, 2020 - February 28, 2023
Palm Desert, CA
The Land and the Body
March 13, 2020 - December 31, 2021
Montecito, CA
Pop Figures: Mel Ramos and Tom Wesselmann
March 26, 2020 - April 30, 2021
Palm Desert, CA
Alexander Calder: Bold Gouaches
March 25, 2020 - March 2, 2022
New York, NY
The Gloria Luria Collection
March 16, 2020 - October 31, 2021
Palm Desert, CA
Cool Britannia: The Young British Artists
April 2 - September 30, 2020
Palm Desert, CA
The Cool School
March 30, 2020 - December 31, 2021
Palm Desert, CA
An Invisible State: Asian American Artists and Abstraction
April 23, 2020 - June 30, 2022
Palm Desert, CA
Jewish Modernism Part 2: Figuration from Chagall to Norman
April 30, 2020 - December 31, 2021
Palm Desert, CA
The Rest So Beautiful: Contemporary Art and China
May 12, 2020 - June 30, 2022
Palm Desert, CA
Zúñiga x Castañeda
April 30 - November 30, 2020
Montecito, CA
Andy Warhol: Wayward Allure
July 30, 2020 - September 30, 2021
Montecito, CA
Abstract Expressionism: Visions of the Sublime
August 11, 2020 - January 31, 2021
Montecito, CA
Wonders of Impressionist and Modern Art in America and Europe
August 26, 2020 - April 30, 2021
Jackson Hole, WY
Portraits: From the 19th Century to Today
August 26, 2020 - April 30, 2021
Jackson Hole, WY
Andy Warhol Polaroids: Bring It to the Runway
December 10, 2020 - December 31, 2021
Palm Desert, CA
Andy Warhol Polaroids: All That Glitters
December 10, 2020 - December 31, 2021
Palm Desert, CA
Andy Warhol Polaroids: Me, Myself, & I
December 10, 2020 - December 31, 2021
Palm Desert, CA
Andy Warhol Polaroids: Ars Longa
December 10, 2020 - December 31, 2021
Palm Desert, CA
Modern Prints
December 26, 2020 - June 19, 2021
Palm Desert, CA

2019

Edward Hopper
July 1 - September 30, 2019
Jackson Hole, WY
Alexander Calder: Cosmic Abstraction
June 21 - August 30, 2019
Palm Desert, CA
Modern British Sculpture
June 30 - July 30, 2019
Sam Francis: On View in Jackson Hole
July 1 - October 15, 2019
Jackson Hole, WY
Andy Warhol
July 16 - August 31, 2019
Jackson Hole, WY
Anselm Kiefer
August 15 - September 30, 2019
Palm Desert, CA
Salvador Dali
August 15 - September 30, 2019
Montecito, CA
SHE/HER: A New Look at a History of Art Since 1900
October 3 - November 17, 2019
San Francisco, CA
Morris Louis - The Early Paintings
October 11 - November 30, 2019
Palm Desert, CA
Irving Norman Estate
October 1, 2019 - August 31, 2020
New York, NY
Grace Hartigan: Late Works
October 15, 2019 - July 5, 2020
San Francisco, CA
Richard Diebenkorn
October 16, 2019 - February 29, 2020
San Francisco, CA
Paul Jenkins and Robert Natkin
November 1 - December 27, 2019
Palm Desert, CA
Jackson Hole: Highlights from 1900 to Today
November 1, 2019 - July 31, 2020
Jackson Hole, WY
Roland Petersen: 1961
November 18, 2019 - January 31, 2020
San Francisco, CA
The Californians
November 1, 2019 - February 14, 2020
Palm Desert, CA
Opulent Minimalism
December 3, 2019 - January 31, 2020
Palm Desert, CA
Paul Jenkins: Coloring the Phenomenal
December 27, 2019 - March 31, 2023
Palm Desert, CA

2018

N.C. Wyeth: Paintings and Illustrations
February 1 - May 31, 2018
Palm Desert, CA
The Paintings of Sir Winston Churchill
March 21 - May 30, 2018
Palm Desert, CA
Gregory Sumida: Americana
April 5 - May 31, 2018
Palm Desert, CA
Wojciech Fangor: The Early 1960s
April 19 - June 30, 2018
New York, NY
The Paintings of Sir Winston Churchill
June 1 - July 27, 2018
San Francisco, CA
California: North and South
June 16 - September 30, 2018
San Francisco, CA
The Paintings of Sir Winston Churchill
August 1 - September 16, 2018
Jackson Hole, WY
Elaine de Kooning
July 1 - August 4, 2018
Jackson Hole, WY
Wojciech Fangor: The Early 1960s
October 11 - December 31, 2018
San Francisco, CA
de Kooning x de Kooning
November 8, 2018 - February 28, 2019
New York, NY
Sam Francis: From Dusk to Dawn
November 15, 2018 - April 29, 2019
Palm Desert, CA
Architectural Landscapes
December 1, 2018 - January 31, 2019
Palm Desert, CA

2017

Sublime Abstraction
November 25, 2017 - May 31, 2018
Palm Desert, CA
Wojciech Fangor
November 25, 2017 - March 17, 2018
Palm Desert, CA

2016

Norman Rockwell: The Artist at Work
June 30 - September 30, 2016
Jackson Hole, WY

2015

Alexander Calder
November 21, 2015 - May 28, 2016
Palm Desert, CA

2014

Masters of California Impressionism
November 22, 2014 - May 23, 2015
Palm Desert, CA

2010

Masters of Impressionism and Modern Art
November 20, 2010 - September 25, 2011
Palm Desert, CA

2009

Picasso
November 20, 2009 - May 25, 2010
Palm Desert, CA