Frida Kahlo, The Wounded Deer, 1946
Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) is an artist now perhaps more known for her persona than her painting. She did indeed have an interesting and complicated life and much of her work is autobiographical, incorporating self-portraits. This particular painting shows Kahlo's vulnerability and her wounded feelings. The painting responds to traditional images of the hunt and also depictions of St. Anthony, who was martyred with arrows. The painting also depicts the pain that Kahlo endured after an unsuccessful spinal surgery and her feelings of being trapped by her physical pain. It is also worth noting that Frida placed her head on the body of a male stag, which is clear from the antlers, perhaps alluding to her struggles over her gender and the difficulty she experienced getting her art recognized. Frida Kahlo's greatest ability was in imbuing her art with the emotional profundity of her condition. She could express her deep sadness and longing and her confusion over her identity. This painting demonstrates that ability, as well as her skill in traditional measures of painting, for both the forest and the deer are rendered with great skill. While we can certainly admire Kahlo's technical skill, the great pain she felt in her life is quite present throughout her art and it is impossible not to feel that intensity in this piece.