Frida Kahlo’s painting The Two Fridas (Ffig. 1) has many similarities and differences to Jamie Wyeth’s Meteor Shower (Ffig. 2). Both of these paintings seem to be very surreal and dreamlike. The Two Fridas (fig. 1) and Meteor shower (fig. 2) are very good examples of contemporary realism. Contemporary realism is the realistic approach to representation in everyday human life. Contemporary realism is on arise during the post-abstract era in the 1940’s and 1950’s. As depicted in both paintings there is extra color and texture added that you wouldn’t would not normally see in real life. This form of art depicted in these paintings is very different from photorealism, which is dramatically exaggerated in its nature. The beauty of contemporary realism is that the artist has no guidelines to go by yet they can also be very clear with the message they are trying to deliver. Meteor shower (fig.2) and The Two Fridas (fig. 1) are very good representations of contemporary realism and express many different ideas in their own ways.
The Two Fridas (Fig. 1) is one of Frida Kahlo’s most famous paintings done in 1939. This 5’7”x5’x7” oil painting is located in Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City. In this painting two portraits of Frida are done side by side. This painting is said to be painted by Frida after her divorce with Diego Rivera her former lover and politics friend. This portrait shows two personalities Frida holds. On the right side Frida is dressed in a traditional mexican Tehuana costume from head to toe. The lack of color on this Frida shows the lack of emotion old Frida might have felt while with Diego, the contrast of the red blood on her plain dress creates unity and movement. This Frida has a noticeable damaged heart compared to the portrait of Frida on the right. Frida on the left is also holding the scissors that have cut a major artery as her blood is dripping on her traditional gown. This frida represents her past amd her culture, it shows her damaged heart from her past relationship. This part of the painting shows immense emotion that Frida was feeling at the time.
The second personality expressed in The Two Fridas (fig.1) is to the right of the painting, this image shows a more modern depiction of Frida and communicates a healing contrast to the first Frida. The colors on her dress, blue, green and yellow are all uplifting colors suggesting her becoming her own person. In this image Frida is holding old Fridas hand in a way of guidance, and has a healthy red heart with veins wrapped around her arm directing the viewer’s eye to a small object she is holding. This object is a small portrait of her ex-husband Diego Rivera. The reason why Frida is holding the picture of her ex-husband may show her longing for her old lover back, and the reminiscence of their good times together. This portrait Frida created shows her emotional pain and desperation experienced during her divorce from Rivera while also moving on from it and beginning her own life again.
Frida Kahlo lived a limiting physical life due to illness as a child and a horrific bus accident. She went through immense pain and suffering which caused her to be bedridden for a lot of her life. Frida became involved in the politics of Mexico and fighting for her rights by the side of the famous mural painter Diego Rivera. Later becoming husband and wife, Diego would appear in her paintings frequently even after the divorce. Frida wanted to capture her pain and emotion in a lot of her works and I think that The Two Fridas (fig. 1) is her strongest work. The composition of the piece is very even and balanced as the subjects are completely centered. The tones used in the background of the piece that create a stormy sky reflect Fridas inner turmoil. This piece suggests contrasting emotions and metamorphosis of the artist becoming stronger and more independant.
Meteor Shower (fig. 2) was painted in 1993 by Jamie Wyeth. This 33×48 inch oil painting with hints of glimmering crushed pearls serves a dreamy landscape of wonders.
In this painting there stands a figure wearing a historical blue wool jacket from the war of 1812. The figure seems to be some type of crow being and creates a very eerie tone. Many aspects of this painting are hard to translate into actual depictions seen in real life showing many aspects of contemporary realism. This painting experiments with many different textures and colors. Many areas of highlights are actually made from crushed pearls Jamie took from one of his friends. Lightly scattered stars across the sky create a hazy look of which is neither dark nor light. The landscape below is of a little sleepy town with very few lights glimmering suggesting it is a very rural, unpopulated area. Behind the figure the water shimmers with a moonlit glow creating unity within the whole painting. The composition of the piece radiates intense humanity and gives the viewer a chance to make up their own story in their head.
Jamie Wyeth was strongly influenced by his father Andrew Wyeth and grandfather N.C Wyeth who were both famous painters in history. Jamie Wyeth was taught the basics by his aunt Carolyn Wyeth and later moved onto more serious work. Wyeth had developed his own way to work with paints, as said by him “I put paint in my mouth, on my fingers, on toothpicks, and often paint with the wrong end of the brush.” Jamie is famously known for his eerie painterly dreamscapes with people or animals often present, creating a story only the viewer can make up.
This similarities between The Two Fridas (fig. 1) and Meteor Shower (fig. 2) are present in many different aspects of the paintings. The first being the landscapes of the two are both dark and painterly, showing many textures the artist can accomplish. In The Two Fridas (fig. 1) Fridas use of blue and grey hues contrast against each other in the same way Jamie Wyeth’s Meteor Shower (fig. 2) landscape of the water against the white houses, against the hazy sky. Both landscapes create a mood of escape and wonder for the artist. Another similarity shows in the dreamlike surreal state of both paintings. In real life if Frida cut her main artery she would be unable to sit up straight on the bench, therefore it is unrealistic yet very life like. The crow figure in Meteor Shower (fig.2) looks like an actual crow on a man’s body, the message behind it is unknown and leaves the viewer questioning. Both paintings imitate life in a unreal way, to create things you might only see in a dream.
The differences between The Two Fridas (fig.1) and Meteor Shower (fig. 2) are also very clear. Even though these paintings are both of the same contemporary realism style there are still noticeable differences in color, composition, tone and intent. The colors used in The Two Fridas (fig. 1) are more vibrant and show growth within the piece. The portrait of Frida to the right is the most colorful part of the painting and create an evening composition between the two. As for Jamie Wyeth’s Meteor Shower (fig.2) there is a lack of vibrant color and expresses little light besides the glimmering highlights of pearls throughout the piece. The reason why Jamie might have done this is to show the dramatic contrast in hues of the dark colors, the sky in the back is light and seems to be illuminating the objects in front of and beneath it. Another difference seen is in the compositions of subjects in each piece. The two portraits of Frida shown in (fig.1) are directly centered and have an even border surrounding them. Frida chose to do this due to the significance of the piece and the meaning behind it for her. As for the crow being in Meteor Shower (fig. 2) Jamie chose to put his main subject off center and positioned on the left to create a balance of composition between the crow and the small city below.
The main difference between these paintings though is a more serious concern. The intent and meaning of emotion behind these two works of art show different emotions the artist experienced. Of course, Frida Kahlo’s The Two Fridas (fig. 1) express great meaning and shows the turmoil this artist went through in order to create the composition of this piece. Frida chose to add in symbols such as the human heart, surgeon scissors, main arteries, the traditional gown worn, and a picture of her ex lover. All of these symbols are of meaning and are all included in this painting to deliver a clear message. As for Jamie Wyeth’s Meteor Shower (fig. 2) the meaning is unknown by the artists and suggests it is a mere figment of imagination or a dream. This painting allows the viewer to dream and wonder what is going on. This painting shows less serious emotion and is more creative in a sense that it is from one’s mind. The symbols used such as the crow being, and the wool coat from the war of 1812 show little meaning and seems to be random. These two amazing paintings done by Jamie Wyeth and Frida Kahlo were beautifully done and connect to each other in similar ways while also showing interesting differences behind the meanings of the two.
(Fig. 1) Frida Kahlo, The Two Fridas,Use the Italics. 1939, Oil on canvas, 5’7”x5’7”. Museo de Arte Moderno
(Fig. 2) Jamie Wyeth, Meteor Shower, Use the Italics. 1993, oil on canvas with crushed pearl, 33×48”, Private Collection
1.) Wyeth, Jamie. ‘Meteor Shower, 1993 – Jamie Wyeth.’ Www.wikiart.org. January 01, 1993. Accessed December 04, 2018. https://www.wikiart.org/en/jamie-wyeth/meteor-shower-1993.This source cannot be in the bibliography.
2.)’The Two Fridas, 1939 by Frida Kahlo.’ Frida Kahlo: 100 Famous Paintings, Complete Works, & Biography.Use the Italics. Accessed December 04, 2018. https://www.fridakahlo.org/the-two-fridas.jsp.
3.)Rawlings, Irene, David Apatoff, and Troy Brownfield. ‘Jamie Wyeth: Born to Paint | The Saturday Evening Post.’ The Saturday Evening Post. Use the Italics. July 18, 2016. Accessed December 04, 2018. https://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2016/07/born-to-paint/.
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