Skip to main content

ARTH 283 The Life and Work of… Frida Kahlo

  • Mondays and Wednesdays, 6:30 - 9:00pm
  • VA 114
  • Instructor: Dr. Kat Simpson

This course investigates the life and work of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907–1954). While examining Kahlo’s artistic production in a variety of genres including still-life, portrait, and landscape, we will focus on Kahlo’s numerous self-portraits. Art historical scholarship as well as popular reception of Kahlo’s oeuvre has often been overwhelmingly focused on Kahlo’s biography, interpreting her self-portraits in particular as direct, unmediated translations of personal experience. In this course we will attend to both the continuities and discontinuities between Kahlo’s life and work, investigating what the artist concealed as well as what she revealed in her art. Indeed a fundamental assumption underpinning this course is that Kahlo’s personae were carefully created and self-reflexively performed by the artist as part of a deliberate process of self-creation. The explosion of interest in Kahlo since her death has served to broaden our understanding of her many personae, and yet increasingly nuanced understandings of Kahlo’s life have not always been matched by increasingly sophisticated interpretations of her work. Using material from her biography, from a wide range of Kahlo’s intellectual and artistic influences, from her works in other genres and most especially from her self-portraits, this course seeks to uncover and assess the many personae of Frida Kahlo and critically engage with the theories and practices dominating the study of Frida Kahlo in art history and beyond. Thus although the course focuses on self-portraiture and includes examination of Kahlo’s personal life, it is nonetheless conceived as an alternative to studies of the artist that neglect her work in favour of her life, or which present the two as equivalent.

Back to top

© Concordia University