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 works of art, Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s “Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird” (1940). The painting will be on display at the Center from Feb. 14 through July 28.
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 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) and exhibited subsequently at the Musée National des beaux-arts du Quebec in Quebec City and at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City. The painting travels next to The ARKEN Museum of Modern Art in Ishøj, Denmark, for the exhibition “Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera,” running from Sept. 7, 2013 to Jan. 5, 2014.
Kahlo (1907-1954) taught herself 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 Hungarian-born photographer Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), which ended in 1939, and her divorce from artist Diego Rivera at the end of that same 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 Kahlo’s “Still Life with Parrot and Fruit” (1951) and the drawing “Diego y Yo” (1930).