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Comparative Study: Kahlo and Halt

Limb on the Tree of Life and Her Sweet Swallow by Halt

Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Two Fridas by Frida Kahlo

Introduction: My comparative study looks at the artists Frida Kahlo and Karen Halt. I will be examining
the works tilted Limb on the Tree of Life, Her Sweet Swallow, by Halt in comparison to Fridas Self
Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Two Fridas. I saw Karen Halts work at the Opening and Reception
Gallery Night. I was drawn to her Birds and Beasts of Uncommon Beauty exhibit. Similarly, I was drawn
to Frida Kahlos surrealist pieces.Both artists led me to create a work of art of my own.

Surrealist Kahlo
Two Fridas by Frida Kahlo
I dont paint dreams, I paint my own reality - Frida
Kahlo
Frida Kahlos powerful subjects and patterned themes of
childbirth, miscarriage, abortion and menstruation make for
the art movements of surrealism and symbolism, while she
denied belonging to either. She argued that while the
obscurity in her dreams might seem like a dark dream to
others, it was her own reality as she went through many
painful situations in her life which led her to create such
prevailing compositions.
The artists unstable partner and also artist himself Diego
Rivera categorized Kahlo as a realist and her biographer
Hayden Herrera agrees saying, Kahlos painting are "real
images in the most literal, straightforward way.

source:http://www.pbs.org/weta/fridakahlo/worksofart/

Cultural Context
It is impossible to ignore the circumstances in
which Frida Kahlo painted what she painted. Her
turbulent relationship with artist Diego Rivera is
prominent in many of her pieces as she obviously
paints him inside of her in some cases coming to a
bigger theme of obsession. Frida also traveled to
the United States many times and her travels also
had a huge influence in the way she carried out
her artistic life. Her political views of communist
also shaped her as a composer of art.

Traditional Kahlo
Frida Kahlo was a very traditional person in the way
she wore colorful Mexican costumes in real life
which then she transferred into her designs. She
also based her artistic style on indigenous folk art
and Roman Catholic images are also important
symbols in her art.

Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace by


Frida Kahlo
http://www.fridakahlo.org/images/pai
ntings/self-portrait-with-necklace-ofthorns.jpg

In this self-portrait, Frida poses in a very bold


manner. She presents her suffering in several of her
pieces as a martyr. The dead hummingbird
symbolized old Mexican folk traditions where the
birds were used to bring in luck in love. She then
contrasts the good luck of the bird to the bad luck of
the black cat

Unification
Clouds suggest
a storm is
coming,
perhaps in
Fridas life
Open heart
symbolizes
pain

Blood
stain
proposes
agony

Frida in
traditional
mexican
gear

Exposure of
heart, very
literal
Scissors
indicate self
harm
Frida is cutting
ties with
herself
European
gear

Frontal pose
enhance her
presence

Ape makes the


implication of
going back to
human
primitive years

Necklace
suggests
her being
restricted

Butterflies
suggest stages
of someones
life and change
over time
Setting indicates
Frida is away from
civilization

Black Cat
indicates bad
luck
Bird
suggest
freedom
Frida seeks

Halt
Contemporary-surrealist Ohio based artist
Karen Halt works with various mediums
including acrylic on panel and mixed
mediums. In addition, animals, especially
apes and felines seem to make a crucial
statement in each of her works.

Limb on the Tree of Life, Halt

Balance
Human vs Nature

Surrealism
Dark background
creates emphasis on
the subject matter
Feline
Recurrence of human
vs nature
Strong suggestion that
we are all the same

Her Sweet Swallow, Halt

Hazy,
unclear
background
evoke a
melancholy
feel to the
painting
Ape is a
symbol of
our early
years in
civilization

Baby Ape is a
representation
of rebirth

Tree limb is
represented as a
home to humans
and animals alike

Baby
represents
humans as
well as
rebirth

Birds in the
background
suggest
solitude

Feathers
hanging are a
sign of
lightness

Metal like
dress might
represent
industrialism

Bird often
seen as a
sign of
freedom

Mysterious
emotion is
extracted from the
obscure
background
Feline proposes a
sense of power
Feline on a
human head is
surrealism
Empty open
space indicate
solitude

Compare
Artists Frida Kahlo and Karen Halt are similarities and differences in
subjects, techniques, and influences. Both artists portray surrealist
subjects in their compositions as well as possess fine use of color and
blending. Another comparison is the cultural influences are evident in
both artists pieces.
In this piece the subject matter is prevailingly similar as apes are used
in both to represent nature. Both pieces suggest that there is a
comparison between humans and nature.

Contrast
Frida & Karen
Clear-cut differences are distinct in Halts and Kahlos works. For
example, while Frida Kahlos mediums are limited to oil on canvas,
Halts art mediums expand to mixed media and acrylic on panel.
Another dissimilarity is the themes both artists carry out, Kahlo portrays
themes of suffering whereas Halt shows themes nature. Furthermore,
because of the context of her paintings, Kahlos influence comes from
her Mexican culture while Karen is influenced by a modern, American
culture.

Techniques- Halt

Tree of Life
Acrylic on gessoed board
Source:
http://www.portalsgallery.com/Artists/halt/halt.htm
Soft quick strokes to create hazy
backgrounds
High level of detail in subjects such as
the apes fur in Tree of Life

Symbolism in Halts
work

Halts subject matter typically includes still life, wildlife, and


portraiture.
Imaginative settings seem to always have a presence in her work.

Captures images not


seen everyday life.

According to http://www.portalsgallery.com/Artists/halt/halt.htm, Halts


posing of people and animals in unexpected, unplanned dimensions
works to weave its way into our lives and free us of factual
experiences. Her underlying theme is reconciliation that seeks to heal
the gap between what is natural and that which is civilized.
-

Techniques- Kahlo

Source:
https://stephaniemalek.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/f
rida_kahlo_crop.jpg

High level of blending using oil paint


Small detailed strokes
Skin colors represent the skin, red lips
represent, the lips.. etc
Proportions are accurate
Bold eyebrows characterize her painting

The impact that


these technique
have on her work is
tt she accurately
depict reality and
what it means to be
human in her works.

I wanted to incorporate the


themes of surrealism and
suffering from the artists I
explored and create a piece of
my own. Since both artists
focused on self portraits that is
what I did. I replicated a Fridastyled self portrait and put my
face on it.

Connecting Halts and Kahlo's Work to my


own

Frida Kahlo

My own work

Frida Kahlo in Connection to My Own Art


In connection to my own art, I used Frida Kahlos self-portrait as inspiration for my own self portrait. I used the
same subject matter, myself to create the same personal relation with my self-portrait as Frida had with hers. In
addition, the colors that Frida used remained unchanged in mine. Through the piece, I was able to convey the same
theme as the inspiration, a theme of suffering and gratefulness.
The medium that I used to create the painting was acrylic on canvas in contrast to oil on canvas as Kahlo used. In
seeing the technique that I used of applying thick strokes of vibrant colors, I can see the resemblance to the
surrealist art movement.

Compare
In the same way that Frida used this specific selfportrait to convey a message, I wrote a message to
my mom whom I am grateful for. The thorns around
my neck, which came from Frida Kahlos work,
indicate my suffering but the message indicates
that I remain grateful. The thorns are what make
the piece surrealist. The flowers on top art a symbol
of life and joy but the dark background emphasizes
a dark past.
The dark back ground is what makes the portrait
stand out as it places emphasis on the person
captured in this case me. The dark, hazy
background is also a prominent characteristic in
Karen Halts body of work.

Bibliography
http://www.wikiart.org/en/frida-kahlo/self-portrait-as-a-tehuana-1943
http://karenhalt.blogspot.com/
http://www.pbs.org/weta/fridakahlo/worksofart/
http://www.fridakahlo.org/images/paintings/self-portrait-with-necklace-of-thorns.jpg
http://www.pbs.org/weta/fridakahlo/worksofart/diegoandi.html
https://stephaniemalek.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/frida_kahlo_crop.jpg
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/ist/?next=/arts-culture/frida-kahlo-70745811/