Memory (The Heart), 1937 Frida Kahlo

Memory (The Heart) 1937 Frida Kahlo

In this self-portrait, Memory (The Heart), Frida discovers how to express the anguish she suffered during the affair between her husband Diego Rivera and her younger sister Cristina through art. Her broken heart is at her feet; The sheer size of her symbolizes the intensity of her pain. Frida illustrates her feelings of helplessness and despair through her lack of hands. Her face, though tearful, is expressionless. She has cut her hair, to irritate Diego who greatly admired her long flowing hair. She wears the European-style clothing that she preferred when she was separated from Diego, who liked Tehuana dresses better. The foot on the water carries a device that looks like a sailboat and refers to an operation that Frida recently underwent on her foot. The hole left after the heart is removed is pierced with a steel bar and there is a Cupid at each end. The more pain Frida wants to convey, the bloodier her paintings are.

The title of this full-length self-portrait, “Memory (The Heart)” might suggest that the painting also represents memories of better times with Diego. The school uniform that she hangs at the bottom of her might remind her of when she met Diego as a schoolgirl. The Tehuana dress is a reminder of how much Diego admired her when she decked herself out in her native costume.

The jacket that she wears is the same jacket that she wore in a 1935 photo taken by Lucienne Bloch…one of the few photos of Frida with short hair. Frida cut her hair out of spite to annoy Diego, who loved her long hair.

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