Throwback Thursday: Two of the Most Influential 20th Century Artists, Kahlo and Picasso

What can be expressed without words, but can inspire a world? Art.

Our Space Block Kahlo de Rivera 1932Frida Kahlo de Rivera (born Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón), a Mexican painter best known for her self-portraits, used symbolism to express her own pain and sexuality. Her style was influenced by indigenous cultures of Mexico as well as by European influences, including Realism, Symbolism and Surrealism. Aside from her art, Kahlo is an inspirational icon because of the obstacles she overcame. I truly find her life story astonishing. She was diagnosed with polio at six years old and endured a tragic trolley car accident in 1925 at the age of 18. After being encased in plaster body casts for months, Kahlo used a mirror and began to paint self-portraits while she was in bed. Of her 143 paintings, 55 of them are self-portraits.

 “I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.”

Kahlo’s artwork has even been used in advertisements. In 2001, her 1993 self-portrait with a necklace was the face of a U.S. Postal Service stamp, and in 2002, Volvo used her self-portraits to sell cars to Hispanics. That same year, her life inspired an English-language movie, “Frida,” which premiered at the Venice International Film Festival. Salma Hayek starred as Frida, and Alfred Molina starred as her husband, Diego Rivera, in the Academy Award nominated film. Additionally, in 2012, Kahlo made the cover of Vogue magazine. She will forever be remembered – viva la vida (long live life).

View Kahlo’s gallery here.

Our Space PicassoAnother artist whom I continue to admire is Pablo Ruiz y Picasso, better known as Pablo Picasso. He was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist and stage designer who is well known for co-founding the Cubist movement (an early-20th-century avant-garde art movement) and inventing constructed sculpture. Guernica (1937) was one of his most famous works, which was a portrayal of the German bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.

Our Space Chicago PicassoPicasso usually painted from imagination or memory and used color as an expressive element. His work is categorized into periods, including the somber, Blue Period (1901-1904), the cheery, Rose Period (1905-1907, the African-influenced Period (1908-1909), Analytic Cubism (1909-1912) and Synthetic Cubism (1912-1919).

One of the most recognizable landmarks, which was a gift “to the people of Chicago” by Picasso himself after refusing to be paid $100,000 for it, is known as the Chicago Picasso. What do you think it looks like? I think it most resembles a horse – maybe a stallion. Can you believe Picasso had never visited Chicago before creating the 50-foot-tall sculpture made of Corrosive Tensile (aka Cor-Ten, a self-weathering steel)? The “Windy City” sure does have a unique connection to his works – we’re the first and only city to own a monumental Picasso sculpture. I can remember the countless times I slid down the sculpture as a kid. That’s a fun work of art.

This past March Picasso’s name was spelled out in eight-foot-tall letters at the Daley Plaza to promote an exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago. We just can’t get enough of him… or can we? The Picasso exhibit was only on display until May 12th. I guess Chicago can’t hog all of Picasso’s works.

Our Space Chicago Picasso 2013

As art continues to inspire people around the world, I thank Kahlo and Picasso for bringing new life to what can be expressed without words.

Cover Photo Source: Cavale Doom via Flickr
Photo Source 1: Carl Van Vechten Estate derivative work: SchirmerPower via Wikimedia Commons
Photo Source 2: teadrinker via Flickr
Photo Source 3: Frank Buchalski via Flickr
Photo Source 4: chicagogeek via Flickr

Nicole Hernandez is the social media manager at SJG. She’s a Chicagoan who graduated from DePaul University with a B.A. in Public Relations & Advertising and minor in Journalism. Nicole is known to her peers as being online all the time –  while on her spare time you can find her taking footage on her phone while she’s rocking out at music festivals. She’s also training to be the new water girl at Chicago Bulls games (in her dreams).