|Keywords||Anatomy, Body Self-Image, Catastrophe, Childbirth, Depression, Disability, Grief, Human Worth, Loneliness, Love, Nature, Pain, Pregnancy, Spirituality, Suffering, Survival, Trauma, Women's Health|
A female figure stands facing us, unclothed, her left side darker than her right, occupying the middle of the frame. She is surrounded with images from the process of human reproduction. The largest of the former is the well-formed male fetus in the frame’s lower left, which is connected by a thin umbilical cord wrapped around the figure’s right leg to a fetus in an early stage of development in the figure’s abdomen, which we see as if by x-ray.
Tear-shaped droplets of blood drip down the figure’s left leg and soak into a dark mass in the earth, where they nourish the roots of several plants. A tear rolls down each of the figure’s cheeks. Just above her to her left is a weeping crescent moon. Below it is an artist’s palette that the figure holds up with a second left arm.
This is a product of Kahlo’s first and only attempt at lithography, a project conceived to reduce the effects of depression following her second miscarriage in 1932. Following a near-fatal bus accident at the age of eighteen that left her with injuries to her pelvis, spine, and uterus, Kahlo’s chances of bearing a child were slim, but she desperately wanted one by her husband, the painter Diego Rivera, and she tried several times against the odds.
In "Frida and the Miscarriage" (as in Henry Ford Hospital, also in this database), Kahlo makes her sorrow evident. However, the work moves beyond human biology to an almost spiritual view of nature. Blood from the hemorrhage that ended her pregnancy nourishes plants which, as Herrera notes, resemble parts of the human body, perhaps suggesting that death is part of a wider natural cycle of life and death and rebirth. (Interestingly, the work’s tears and drops of blood are indistinguishable, both rendered as clear.)
As in several of Kahlo’s other works (see Tree of Hope in this database), the figure’s darkened left side is associated with the moon and a metaphysics or strategy for survival. This litho adds to that left-side constellation the image of the artist’s palette, shaped like a heart but also mirroring the smaller fetus. The palette is held up by a third arm, suggesting that art comes from the "healing side" and provides strength the figure would otherwise not have. Near the end of her life, Kahlo remarked that painting had "completed" her life. Considering how much she suffered, and how much of that suffering is expressed in her art, we may wonder if art had not in fact been for Kahlo the thing that made living possible.
|Location of Original||Collection of Dolores Olmedo Foundation, Mexico City|
|Alternate Source||Hayden Herrera, Frida Kahlo: The Paintings (copyright 1991, HarperCollins; Perennial reprint, 2002)|
|Miscellaneous||Created in 1932|
|Annotated by||Woodcock, John A.|
|Date of Entry||08/13/02|