The Two Fridas – A Detailed Analysis

Title: The Two Fridas (Las Dos Fridas)

Author: Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón (Born, Mexico, 13 July 1907 – Died, Mexico, 2 July 1954)

Date: 1939

Genre: Self-portrait

Movement: Naïve art – Surrealism

Technique: Oil painting

Support: Canvas

Dimension: 173,5 cm x 173 cm (height x width)

Location: Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City

Some write their experiences and feelings, and this becomes a novel. Some compose, and this emerges as a piece of music! She unburdened herself with her colors and brushes, and it became an art!

In Mexico City, one woman’s painting carries her tragedies, sufferings, and pains. She had a whole lot to venture and two great tragedies. One was the horrific trolley accident that broke her spine and pelvis in multiple places and doomed her to a lifetime of suffering and the other one would be a two-time heartbreaking husband who tormented her with his multiple infidelities. As you can guess, the husband is Diego Rivera, the painter is Frida Kahlo, and the painting is none other than The Two Fridas.

Frida Kahlo, Las Dos Fridas (The Two Fridas), 1939, Oil on canvas.

Let’s divulge all the essential and compelling details of Frida Kahlo’s The Two Fridas, waiting for us in Mexico!


I hope you are having a good day. Do you have anything special for this afternoon? If not, come and join us; we are about to start our little trip to vibrant and colorful Mexico City for visiting The Two Fridas. We are super excited to witness the phenomenal portrayal!

As we hurried on our way to get to the Museum of Modern Art, we found ourselves thinking about what makes great art great. Then, when we saw Frida Kahlo’s The Two Fridas, we found a way to answer this question.

Front view of the Museo de Arte Moderno.

The more you know The Two Fridas, the more imposing it gets. The imposing eye-catching painting is waiting for us to reveal its meaning to be known. So, it’s better to know Two Fridas’ meaning first!


In Frida’s diary, she wrote about this painting and said it is originated from her memory of an imaginary childhood friend. Later she admitted it expressed her desperation and loneliness with the separation from Diego.


Drawing attention to the conventions on defining women’s beauty by depicting herself with facial hair and painting herself twice went beyond the ordinary. At the same time, Kahlo’s The Two Fridas represent a departure in her oeuvre and her tragedies!

Frida Kahlo while working on The Two Fridas in her studio. (Photo by Nickolas Muray)

You attempt to make sense of why you can see two Frida figures in one painting and even more what Kahlo did want to tell us with these figures. But before diving into all, I want to mention Frida Kahlo to understand the painting adequately.

Frida The Self Portrait

She was a pioneer of a new form of a self-portrait with facial hair indelibly strokes the one who looks at them. Frida Kahlo went against both conventions of beauty and social presumption in her self-portraits. Kahlo was a riotous loner, often dressed in inherent attire. On the other hand, Frida Kahlo lived as an artist in a society with no balance between man and woman dominance, during a period when many middle-class women reduced their hopes to live in their homes. 

Frida Kahlo, Self-portrait with Small Monkey, 1945, Oil on masonite.

She defined herself as portrait artist. Her works have also been defined as surrealist, and André Breton, the initiator of the surrealist movement, described Kahlo’s art as a “ribbon around a bomb” Frida refused the “surrealist” label; she believed that her work reflected more of her reality than her dreams. She said once;

“They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.”

After her statement, for our peace of mind, we can enunciate that Frida Kahlo is a self-portrait artist.

A real-life recreation of The Two Fridas. (Photo by Rohit Chawla)

The First Tradegy of Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo never dared to paint an oil canvas of the accident.
(September 17, 1926)

So much suffering, lifelong health problems, many caused because of a traffic accident!

Frida Kahlo’s plans for the future were cut short on September 17, 1925. She was crippled by a near-fatal bus accident at 18. Her injuries included several broken vertebrae, a broken collarbone, two broken ribs, and a shattered pelvis; her right leg had eleven fractures, and her right foot was crushed. The rod had pierced her entire body, exiting through her vagina. This accident left her in chronic pain her whole life.

After the bus accident, she had to wear medical corsets because of severe spinal injuries. Over her lifetime, she had 32 primary operations. Such a tragic life!

She spent a month in the hospital, immobilized in plaster casts and traction, followed by several months in bed at home. Boredom was as much torment as was pain, and so she cast about for something to occupy herself. She decided to paint. The pretty admirable thing is that she achieved to make a virtue out of adversity, her misery. 

Frida Kahlo painting “Portrait of Frida’s Family.

She produced some of the most haunting and visionary images of the 20th century. Of the 143 paintings by Frida Kahlo, 54 of them are self-portraits. She spent a year in bed recovering from her accident. Her mother had a special easel made, so she was able to paint in her hospital bed. In addition, she had a mirror placed above her bed; therefore, she could paint herself. She made most of the paintings in her bed; that is why most of her paintings were petite. However, Two Fridas was an exception and are Kahlo’s most giant artwork. 

The Second Tradegy of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera

Frieda and Diego Rivera by Frida Kahlo.

When she made one of the most-known artworks, two Fridas, in 1939, Frida Kahlo’s career was taking off, but at the same time, her personal life was falling apart. Ten years before she made this artwork, she had married a world-famous Mexican Artist, Diego Rivera. This love captivated the art world. It was like a smash hit, and they combined their relationship with passion, devotion, jealousy, anger, and betrayal.

Sadly, both of them had numerous affairs. In 1939, Frida spent three months away from Mexico and her Diago, and she had her first successful solo show in New York. Later that year, she had a sensational display in Paris, and the Louvre bought one of her works. At the same time, she became a great celebrity in Paris.

Frida came back to Mexico turned into a different woman in April of 1939. She climbed up the celebrity ladder. Instantly, she was the backbone of the avant-garde art world. Unfortunately, while she was away from Diego, enjoying his independence, their relationship started to fall apart. Over the years, Diego had many lovers; Frida had too, men and women. Other than that, Diego’s affair with her beloved sister crossed the line. Next, Frida left their house, and Diego began the divorce process. She was heartbroken, and she cut off her hair and abandoned the Mexican dresses that Diego loved. Thus, two Fridas came to the world under these conditions.

What Can You See in The Two Fridas?

Frida on the left is rejected and unloved, whereas on the right, the darker-skinned indigenous Mexican Frida was adored by her husband. It is interesting when it comes to her attire because Frida on the left has a European avant-garde style. But, on the other hand, Frida, on the right, is wearing a traditional Mexican garment known as a Tehuana (After the Revolution, when Mexican leaders and intellectuals intended to build a sense of nationality, the Tehuana became a cultural symbol.).

The dresses used by Frida Kahlo.

Although, before she married Rivera, she had worn the modern European dress; however, with Rivera’s encouragement, Kahlo embraced traditional Mexican attire. Besides, Kahlo’s fondness for indigenous clothing showed her admiration for traditions and her commitment to Mexico and, most importantly, Diego.  

On the other hand, the way of dressing had a more practical purpose: she tried to disguise her disabled body. So, they are longer than footling since her right leg deteriorated due to polio. ( caught polio in 1913, her aged six)

There is a completely shattered and a broken heart in left Frida. Because of the divorce and all the painful things she was going through with Diego. To the right is healthy and happy Frida.  

Veins Unites Two Fridas!

Where one is weakened by an unveiled heart, the other remains valid!

There are veins attaching everything, and it comes from the hearts of two Fridas. Left Frida is cutting off the connection from Diego with the scissors. She pines away from her lost love. However, Frida Kahlo failed in finishing the blood flow ultimately. She might want her life in the way it used to be.

Two Fridas – The one who cut her artery with scissors and stains on her white skirt.

Moreover, the blood on the dress is a depiction of her physical and emotional pain. On the other hand, right Frida is attached with a miniature portrait of young child Diego. In addition, The Two Fridas grasp hands, and this bond makes an echo by the vein that unites them. 

Two Fridas – The one who holds a small portrait.

The left Frida seems weak and pale, and in contrast, the right one looks a definite, solid figure and looks at us straight on. She is taking her hand as wanting to protect her.

In terms of the symbolism of colors, cobalt blue on the blouse represents love and purity. She mentioned this in her diary. Skin tones are also distinct. Frida on the left appears more European than the one on the right. When you look at the background, you see the traces of her loss of hope. It goes with her dark past. It seems to be reflected by all the struggles, frustrations she has been through her life.


It seems to reflect Kahlo’s hesitations about her husband’s devotion. As we mentioned, Mexican Frida was adored by her husband, when it comes to Frida on the left has a European avant-garde style, reflecting her times being alone. She simply symbolized the way of her appearance based on her time with Diego and her time without her Diego love because of the numerous infidelities of him.

Two Fridas in a single frame! Colorized photo of Frida Kahlo on her workshop.
Two Fridas were acquired by the INBA (Mexican National Institute of Fine Arts) directly from the artist in 1947, and transferred to final location, the MAM (Museum of Modern Art) on December 28, 1966.

Those who can define the frontier of their bodies on the canvas might begin to ponder the meaning of existence. The things Frida has been through and her courage to face her inner world made her a fearless and daring woman.

The name Frida is a girl’s name of German origin (Magdalena Carmen Frieda), meaning “peaceful.” But, unfortunately, the peace did not find a place too much in her life… 

With the rise of anti-Fascist sentiment in Mexico in the 1930s, Frida Kahlo changed the German spelling of her name Frieda to Frida.

Here we finish by examining Las Dos Fridas, a reflection of an unfortunate life. Letting you with her quotes;

“I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone because I am the person I know best.”

“I am my own muse, the subject I know best.”

Frida Kahlo

Last but not least, if you are intrigued by art, we will have a blast seeing you here. Hope every art-related thing will find you, see you in our following review. ????????✌

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