Pictures for Mystery and Meaning
Art was used by the society to pass a message and give an impression of the societal
challenges the community faced as a way of either sensitizing them to stay strong or providing
ideas on how to address such challenges. Women self-portraits use the image of the artist to
represent a larger group of women and to communicate a particular message regarding them at a
particular time. Women artists have always been invisible in the art scene, and their self-portraits
serve to offer a glimpse of their experiences over time. Besides these external depictions, the
highlighting of human internal challenges helps to understand their history and appreciate
The other age-old social problem is promiscuity. In highlighting paintings that address
this challenge, we get a preview of how society has changed over time with the recurrent issue.
Seeing how different periods have grappled with such societal issues and challenges would help
to understand our inherent inability to overcome our weaknesses. This essay will discuss six
paintings under six different themes and provide biographical information of the artist and the
historical background of the paintings, and the socio-political perspectives. The report will also
identify the style used in the painting and the intention of the artist and the patron. In addition,
the individual who commissioned the painting and how the artwork as received by the audience
will be analyzed.
Analysis of Painting
Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait along the borderline between Mexico and the US, 1932
The Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait along the borderline between Mexico and the US, 1932 is
a woman self-portrait that gives an expression of the feeling of Frida to the ancient agrarian
culture of Mexico. The artist is known for many of her self-portraits which she used to reflect her
personal tribulations, political and social perspective, her personal experiences, and the
numerous challenges she faced in her personal life. In the self-portrait, the artist compares her
home country as compared to the United States where she lives as an immigrant.
The self-portrait uses oil on metal as the media of painting and also applies the use of
naïve, primitive, or surrealism artistic style of painting. It falls within the genre of symbolic selfportrait painting. The self-portrait was painted in 1932 when Diego received several
commissions to paint murals while in the U.S (Morrissey, 7). As Frida and her partner headed
North, Diego became contented with the American culture and environment. However, this was
not the case with Frida who remained miserable and homesick. The self-portrait was thus
inspired by the horrible experience that Frida went through while living in Gringolandia.
The socio-political issue captured in this self-portrait is the intense personal political
ideology of Mexico. She decided to reflect her turbulent personal life in the self -portrait. The
artist contrast the environment in Mexico to that of the United States using the sun and the moon
creating a bolt of lightning in Mexico and a single could formed by smokes from four chimney
with the word FORD labeled on it to depict U.S mood (Morrissey, 9). Partially ruined preColumbian temple, a pile of rubble, fertility idols, a skull, and exotic plants with white roots
characterize the Mexican environment while skyscrapers and machines with black electric cords
characterize the United States. Despite the uncharacteristically lace gloves and sweet pi...