On July 6th 1954, Frida Kahlo celebrated her 47th birthday. This painting which will be her last, is her tribute to life. Indeed despite her deteriorated health, the artist has proven resilience and strength. Kahlo is mostly known for her self portraits rich in symbols and the representation of organs. She applied the same approach to still life. She wrote ”I dip the brush in blood-red paint and, embracing life with all its light, I print on a watermelon cut open--like I am—¡Viva la vida!—a hymn to nature and life.” She declared that “everything exists, and moves, under only one law = life “ and would often proclaim her revolutionary spirit.
Watermelons are significant in Mexican culture as they are often left as offerings to honor the spirits of ancestors during the Mexican Day of the Dead ceremony. This choice of fruits a few days before her passing with her name, place of birth and death on the painting are particularly meaningful.
Diego Rivera her husband celebrates her birthday and their tumultuous but lasting relationship. As it happens, Rivera last painting will also be a still life of watermelons.
Georgia O’Keeffe and Kahlo met in 1931 in New York. They were both fearless, flamboyant, and powerful personalities and became close friends. The post is liked by Nickolas Muray, the photographer who made her famous portraits and who was her partner for some time.
Sources: Frida: Viva la Vida, Carmen T. Bernier-Grand
The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait
Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keeffe’s Formative Friendship, Karen Chernik, Artsy
Frida Viva la Vida, 2023, Acrylic on canvas, 24" x 18"