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Frida Kahlo and Joy Hester Essay

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Frida Kahlo and Joy Hester

During the 1940's and 50's a emergence of strong female artistic influence can be seen using the examples of Joy Hester and Frida Kahlo. While Kahlo was recognised during her life as a brilliant independent artist for her ground-breakingly personal style, Hester was not. It was only after her death in 1960 that her art was truly celebrated in Australian exhibitions.

Hester and Kahlo both attended art schools through the 1920's and 30's; because of this they share many of the same basic artistic influences. Surrealism played a big part in the development of their art, especially in Kahlo's works that are often associated with surrealism. Expressionism was another influence they shared but it played less of a role in their art as it only began development in the 1950's. Both of these movements and those preceding them were male dominated and as such, it was male conditioning of the time that dictated the inappropriateness of women to paint their own lives yet this is exactly what these women did. It is this autobiographical nature of their work that makes them not only similar but also innovative artists, challenging the conceptions of the time. Their husbands were both influential and successful artists however these women maintained their independence and these common influences created two artists that made headway in the women's art movement.

As far as the art world is concerned, Hester and Kahlo's influences were very similar however in the geographical world they couldn't have been further apart, and these local influences are evident, especially in Kahlo's use of Mexican and Aztec symbols. ‘Self Portrait with monkeys', 1943, demonstrates the heavy use of traditional symbols typical of Kahl...


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...tity in herself. These vines are also reminiscent of a web, linking to Kahlo's use of nature and symbols within nature in her art. The web like vines suggests the nature of the spider's web, in which the much larger female consumes the smaller male or the smaller flies. Each being a vital element to the spider's survival much like Diego was to Kahlo.

These women challenged the boundaries of a male dominated era in the production of autobiographical works that included controversial subject matter (themselves, amongst other things) and combined new styles of art. They fought against the preconceptions around them and their own personal life struggles to continue painting until their premature deaths due to illness. Frida Kahlo and Joy Hester are inspirational women artist who painted beautiful, ground breaking paintings, making headway in the women's art movement.


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