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Frida Kahlo

Mexican, 1907–1954

© 2010 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Self-Portrait with Monkey, 1938

Oil on Masonite
16 x 12 inches (40.6 x 30.5 cm)
Bequest of A. Conger Goodyear, 1966

Frida Kahlo represented herself numerous times in the company of her various pets, which included monkeys, deer, and exotic birds. They were, in some aspects, surrogates for the children she could not have due to severe injuries she received in a bus accident in Mexico City when she was eighteen.

A previous painting of herself and her pet monkey Fulang-Chang was borrowed from its owner to include in her first exhibition in the United States in 1938. Collector A. Conger Goodyear greatly admired the portrait and commissioned a second version for himself, which he later bequeathed to the Albright-Knox.

Kahlo stands before lush vegetation wearing a traditional Mexican blouse and necklace, along with an elaborate hairstyle that also reflects her heritage. She was instrumental in the revival of traditional Mexican culture, and even changed her birth year to 1910 to coincide with the start of the Mexican Revolution.

Related Lesson

Symbolic Self-Portrait (For Grades K–12)

Related Activity

Activities for Families (PDF)


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