Top 5 famous Frida Kahlo paintings and what they mean

Famous Frida Kahlo Paintings, Two Fridas | Vignettly

Our most favorite Frida Kahlo paintings

Two Fridas, 1939

Famous Frida Kahlo Paintings, Two Fridas


Right after her divorce from Diego Rivera, Frida painted this masterpiece. The dual portrait of Frida is considered one of her most memorable works. Two Fridas holding hands, one looks traditional with her national Tehuana dress while the other is modern looking with her European attire. The two Fridas was interpreted in many ways by historians and art critics. However, Frida wrote about this painting in her diary, that she was painting the image is of a memory of a childhood imaginary friend.

Both Fridas are holding something in their lap; the conventional Frida holds a small portrait of Diego Rivera, and the European Frida holds forceps. The main artery, which comes from the torn heart down to the right hand of the traditional Frida, is cut off by the surgical pincers held in the lap of the traditional Frida. Because this piece was completed by Kahlo shortly after her divorce, the European Frida is missing a piece of herself, her Diego. The blood keeps dripping on her white dress and she is in danger of bleeding to death. The stormy sky filled with agitated clouds may reflect Frida's inner turmoil.


Self Portrait with Monkey, 1940

Self Portrait with Monkey, 1940 by Frida Kahlo


This self portrait was painted during Frida's one year divorce from her husband Diego. She left the house in San Angel and returned to live with her parents in the "Blue House" in Coyoacán. During the period following the divorce, Frida relied heavily on her pets for companionship. In this painting, she appears with her pet monkey who clings to her like a surrogate child. The monkey is embracing her, his paw wrapped around her neck. Frida and her monkey are tethered by a deep red ribbon that wraps 4 times around her neck and then disappears behind the monkey's neck. Frida painted several self portraits that featured her beloved pets.

Frida documented her color palate in a kind of prose poem in her diary:

GREEN: warm and good light
REDDISH PURPLE: Aztec. Old blood of prickly pear. The most alive and oldest.
Brown: color of mole, of the leaf that goes. Earth.
YELLOW: madness, sickness, fear. Part of the sun and of joy.
COBALT BLUE: electricity and purity. Love.
BLACK: nothing is black, really nothing.
LEAF GREEN: leaves, sadness, science. The whole of Germany is this color.
GREENISH YELLOW: more madness and mystery. All the phantoms wear Suits of this color... or at least underclothes.
DARK GREEN: color of bad news and good business. navy blue: distance. Also tenderness can be this blue. magenta: Blood? Well, who knows!

The wounded table, 1940

The Wounded Table, Frida Kahlo Painting 1940

 The wounded table is one of the most elaborate paintings by Frida and the largest. This self-portrait was painted during the end of 1939 to the beginning of 1940. In December of 1939, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera's divorce became final. It depicted her angst, loneliness and turmoil of losing her husband. The blood is dripping in the painting as it was dripping on Frida's Tehuana skirt in the Two Fridas.

Frida painting the Wounded Table masterpiece 1940

In this painting, the table has human legs and its surface is bleeding on the few knots. This table is a symbol of Frida's sense of broken family from the divorce. There are several objects around the table. In the center was Frida herself, surrounded by all the objects who accompanies her. On one side is her sister Cristina's two children, which is a reflection of her desire to have her own children. On the other side is a deer, one of her favorite pet and she use that as her surrogate children. Sitting right next to her is a Nayarit figure.

It was included in the first major Surrealist exhibition in Mexico. In 1955, the painting was exhibited in Warsaw, Poland, and somehow in transit to another location, it was, and remains, lost.


The wounded dear, 1943

The wounded dear painting by Frida Kahlo 1943

It seems like Frida painted the wounds she carried in her soul from the pain of her accident, to infertility and her husband's infidelity and divorce. In this painting, Frida used a young deer with the head of herself and was fatally wounded by a bunch of arrows. The background is the forest with dead trees and broken branches, which implied the feeling of fear and desperation.

In 1946 Frida Kahlo had an operation on her spine in New York. She was hoping this surgery would free her from the severe back pain but it failed. This painting expressed her disappointment towards the operation. After she went back to Mexico, she suffered both physical pain and emotional depression. In this painting she depicted herself as a young stag with her own head crowned with antlers. This young stag is pierced by arrows and bleeding. At the lower-left corner, the artist wrote down the word "Carma", which means "destiny" or "fate". Just like her other self-portraits, in this painting Frida expressed the sadness that she cannot change her own fate. 


Tree of Hope, Remain Strong, 1946

Tree of Hope Painting by Frida Kahlo 1946

After Frida returned to Mexico from the U.S, she was staying in bed for a short time than wearing a steel corset for eight months. But her health condition has been worsening rather than improving. She got sharp pains in her spine and lost her appetite thanks to the long-lasting pain. But she still paints and during a letter she wrote to her friend, she mentioned this painting, Tree of Hope, 1946 as "nothing but the results of the damned operation!"

In this painting, under the gloomy sky, the sun and moon divided the background into two halves of sunshine and dark. In the middle, Frida was sitting there and weeping during a read Tehuana costume. Nevertheless, she seems strong and assured. Behind her on a hospital trolley, lying a second Frida, who is anesthetized and her surgical incisions still open and dripping with blood. Frida was holding a pink orthopedic corset while sitting within the wooden chair. On her other hand, she was holding a flag which has words from the song "Cielito Lindo" - "Tree of Hope, Remain Strong."

On the flagpole, there's a red tip that appears sort of a medical instrument stained with blood, or a paintbrush dipped in red paint. The barren landscape behind her has two fissures which are a metaphor for the injuries on her back. Frida painted this painting for her patron Eduardo Morillo Safa. during a letter to him, Frida mentioned: "There may be a skeleton (or death) that flees within the face of my will to measure ." But she later removed the skeleton to please Eduardo. But she cannot eliminate the menace of death. In this portrait, by putting two of Frida's images together, one may be a victim of the botched tragedy, while the other is that the heroic survivor; Frida used it as a retablo and an act of religion. Frida takes charge of her destiny and becomes her savior and hero.