Painted in 1939 at the height of the transatlantic Surrealist art movement, Two Nudes in a Forest also emerged from Frida Kahlo’s personal suffering caused by worsening health and separation from her husband, Diego Rivera. The painting emits a strong, emotional pulse charged with a sense of longing and existential loneliness, and yet it also conveys an unquestionable resilience.
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, 1933. Photo: ©Estate of
Martin Munkacsi, courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery,
20th Century at Christie's
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The two female central figures may be seen to represent the competing forces of Frida Kahlo’s heritage and personality, their faces expressing gentle compassion and intense contemplation. In setting such oppositional images against an intentionally distressed background, the work portends a storm brewing around an otherwise idyllic moment. Embedded in the emotion are Kahlo’s conflicts — questions about her sexuality, her mixed ethnicity and contemplation of mortality and death. The nude figures underscore a purity and an elusiveness that suspend the scene in a confrontation between dream and reality.
With the re-emergence of Kahlo’s art at public auction, this small yet delicate painting cannot help but make a grand statement during the Impressionist & Modern Evening sale on 12 May at Christie’s New York.
Main image: © 2016 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York