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). The painting will be on display beginning July 6, which is Kahlo’s 104th birthday, and run through Jan. 8, 2012.
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 on view in exhibitions in Berlin, Germany; Vienna, Austria; and Madrid, Spain. It will next be on view in the three-venue exhibition “In Wonderland: The Surrealist Activities of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States,” organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). This exhibition will be on view at LACMA from Jan. 29, 2012 through May 6, 2012; at the Musee National des Beaux-arts du Quebec in Quebec City, Canada, from June 7 to Sept. 3, 2012; and at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City, Mexico, from Sept. 27, 2012 through Jan. 13, 2013.
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.