The Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin, celebrates the homecoming of one of its most famous and frequently borrowed art works, the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s “Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird” (1940) on Cinco de Mayo, May 5.
The painting will be on display through Jan. 3, 2010.
Since 1990 the painting has been on almost continuous loan, featured in exhibitions in more than 25 museums in the United States and around the world, in countries such as Australia, Canada, France and Spain.
The painting was most recently part of “Frida Kahlo,” a traveling retrospective exhibition organized by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the artist’s birth.
Kahlo (1907-1954) taught herself how to paint after she was severely injured in a bus accident at the age of 18. For Kahlo, painting became an act of cathartic ritual, and her symbolic images portray a cycle of pain, death and rebirth.
Kahlo’s affair in New York City with her friend, the Hungarian-born photographer Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), which ended in 1939, and her divorce from the artist Diego Rivera at the end of the year, left her heartbroken and lonely. But she produced some of her most powerful and compelling paintings and self-portraits during this time.
Muray purchased the self-portrait from Kahlo to help her during a difficult financial period. It is part of the Ransom Center’s Nickolas Muray collection of more than 100 works of modern Mexican art, which was acquired by the Center in 1966. The collection also includes “Still Life with Parrott and Fruit” (1951) and the drawing “Diego y Yo” (1930) by Kahlo.
In celebration of the display, the Center’s Poetry on the Plaza series will feature “Surrealism in Latin America” on Wednesday, May 6 and Kahlo scholar and biographer Hayden Herrera will present the talk “Frida Kahlo: Her Art and Life” on Thursday, June 18 at the Ransom Center.
In 2010, Kahlo’s self-portrait will be on view in Berlin and Vienna.