Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of the Arts


Art and Design

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Martin Greenwald

Committee Member

Scott Gordley


Even with the vast analysis done on the work of Frida Kahlo, little attention has been paid to both the artist’s probable abuse as a child and her intentional abortions as an adult. This study chooses to incorporate these findings to reexamine six of her famous self-portraits, Self Portrait on the Borderline of Mexico and the United States, My Birth, Henry Ford Hospital, Self Portrait with Monkey, What I saw in the Water and The Two Fridas to uncover a new perspective. Scrutiny of the artist’s words, combined with historical fact dispels the current myth that Kahlo’s painting was done strictly as the result of her lamenting the inability to bear a child and her often divisive relationship with Diego Rivera. Her work had another agenda. Kahlo is uncovered to be a woman truly ahead of her time in thought and ability. She was extremely intelligent and forward thinking. The vision of Kahlo that emerges from this investigation, while sad and complicated, is also surprisingly strong and determined and the vision of her work forever changed.

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