The Two Fridas by Frida Kahlo Formal Analysis

The Two Fridas by Frida Kahlo Formal Analysis
Two Fridas by Frisa Kahlo

The Two Fridas by Frida Kahlo was created in 1939. Frida Kahlo was born on July 6, 1907 in Mexico City, Mexico to Wilhelm Kahlo and Matilde Calderon. Frida was involved in a road accident at the age of 18 years, which fractured several bones and damaged her spinal cord. She began to paint while immobilized in the hospital. She created relationships with artists such a Diego Rivera, who gave insights into her paintings. Frida got married to Diego Rivera n 1929 (Sabbeth, 2005). However, Diego’s infidelities instigated divorce in 1939, and remarried in 1940 (Simon, 2017). Although Frida was subjected to operations on several occasions, she remained an active painter, producing famous paintings such as The Two Fridas and Diego on my Mind.

Techniques and Media

The Two Fridas is painted in oil on a canvas. The painting is composed of two Fridas holding hands. One Frida is dressed in a white dress while the other Frida is dressed in blue and brown dress. The Frida in the white dress has an open heart while the Frida in the blue dress has a closed heart. The two Fridas cover the whole of the frame.

Size or dimensions of the work

The painting’s dimensions are 1.73m by 1.73m, which can be categorized as a moderately sized painting. The painting has two female figures that are smaller than life size, but they fill almost the entire frame. The sizes of the females in the paint are large enough to see the two hearts- the open heart in the figure with white dress and a closed heart in the figure with a blue dress.

Formal Qualities.

The line- the artis effectively used the aspects of the line to paint a proportional figure and to create a form. The lines define the form. For example, there are contour lines which separate the two Fridas’s drapery and the surface which they sit on. Also, a contour line joins the two hearts, running around the Frida in the white dress. Moreover, a contour line runs on the white dress towards the scissors held in the left hand. Frida used lines to draw hands, which makes them proportional. The contour line from the open hear runs to the hand with the scissors while the contour line from the closed heart is wrapped on Frida’s left hand and joins to a needle in his hand. The dresses also show contours, depicting that the artist used lines to draw them.

Color- Frida uses color to show contrast between the two female figures. The Frida with an open heart has a white dress with brown spots at the bottom. The dress also has grey color at the top. The Frida with a closed heart has a blue and brown dress. Also, the dress has a white color at the bottom, showing that the two Fridas are connected. The background as white, grey and black clouds. The white color in the background shows that the two Fridas are connected to the sky.

Space- Frida has uses the space to create an atmospheric perspective. For example, the clouds are depicted in the background to show atmospheric space. The two Fridas are seated on a chair, which is depicted in space. The artery or vein that joins the open and closed hearts runs in space. Also, the two Fridas stare in space. The use of space helps the artist to create a perspective around the painting.

Frida uses light to contrast features in the painting. For example, the faces and arms of the two Fridas shine with brightness. The artist used light make these features conspicuous to the observer. Also, Frida used light to illuminate the floor, which acts as the surface. The background is illuminated to show white and black clouds.

Composition of the painting- The artists used lines to ensure the two Fridas are on the same size, and which is depicted by the line showing the proportionality of their shoulders and foreheads.  Moreover, the painting is made patterns which are depicted in the repetition of flowers on at the bottom of the white dress. Also, top of the white dress has a pattern of brown marks. The background of the two Fridas is depicted by white and black clouds. Therefore, The Two Fridas paining is composed of lines, light, and patterns.

Subject Matter or Content, and Message of the Work

The Two Fridas painting is about a heart break. Frida created the painting shortly after her marriage with Diego Rivera broke in 1939. Frida expresses her feelings in the painting by depicting herself with a wedding gown and an open heart and the other self with a blue dress and a closed heart. The Two Fridas show the differences and similarities between the Frida of the past and the present Frida (Kleiner, 2009). In the past, Frida has an open heart and a white dress, which depicts her as open to love and purity. This shows that Frida was open and loving to her husband, Diego Rivera. In her left hand, she has a pair of scissors, which means that she could have sliced her heart open. In the other figure with the blue dress, Frida has a needle in her left hand, which insinuates that she could have sewn her heart back together after divorce.

Frida painted The Two Fridas to reconcile her past self with her present self. The painting shows that she was trusting and open to her to marriage (Sabbeth, 2005). However, the enigmatic face shows that she is not happy with her marriage life. Frida accused her husband of multiple occasions of infidelity, which could have made her unhappy. The Frida in the blue dress has a closed heart, which shows she is not in love anymore. She holds a needle in her left hand, indicating the healing process. The seating posture, which legs a bit wide in a long dress indicates her desire for freedom.  The Frida in blue dress also has an enigmatic face. The lack of happy emotions in the two figures show that Frida did not enjoy her marriage life and her life after divorce. No wonder she remarried Diego Rivera in 1940.  She definitely loved Diego Rivera.

Portrait of Barrack Obama

The Portrait of Barrack Obama painting by Kehinde Wiley Wiley reminds me of The Two Fridas painting because of the application of the formal qualities such as composition, space, line, light, and pattern. In The Portrait of Obama painting, Wiley uses lines which are depicted by the chair sits on. The four-legged chair is proportional, which means Wiley used straight lines. Contour lines are used to depict Obama’s suit. Wiley uses pattern to draw the background of flowers. Also, Wiley uses light to illuminate Obama’s face and background. This helps to draw the viewer’s attention to Obama’s face and the background. The use of space and color form create the composition. The figure covers more than two-thirds of the scale, which makes a painting of a moderate size. In the painting, Obama stares in the space, which creates an illusion that he is maintaining eye contact with the viewer.  Therefore, The Portrait of Obama is similar to The Two Fridas by sharing formal qualities such as the use of lines, space, light, and pattern.


Kleiner, F. S. (2009). Gardner’s art through the ages: The western perspective, volume II.
Boston, MA Wadsworth/Cengage. The Two Fridas by Frida Kahlo

Sabbeth, C. (2005). Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera : Their Lives and Ideas, 24 Activities: Vol. 1st ed. Chicago Review Press. The Two Fridas by Frida Kahlo

Simon, J. G. (2017). Third Viewing of Two Fridas. Atlanta Review, 24(1), 103.

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