Famous Female Mexican Artists And Their Iconic Paintings
While iconic legend Frida Kahlo is perhaps Mexico's most well-known female artist, there are many more female up-and-comers on the Mexican art scene that you should be aware of.
Here are top painters, illustrators, and artistic pioneers you should get to know, whether they work internationally or in their native country.
Who is the famous Mexican female artist?
After being seriously injured in a bus accident, Frida Kahlo regarded one of Mexico's best artists, began painting largely self-portraits. Later in life, Kahlo became politically active and married Diego Rivera, a fellow communist artist, in 1929.
Top Female Mexican Artists And Their Artworks
- Aurora Reyes Flores
- Remedios Varo
- María Izquierdo
- Frida Kahlo
- Leonora Carrington
- Celia Calderón
Aurora Reyes Flores
Aurora Reyes Flores is the first female muralist in Mexico. The work of this trailblazing artist carried powerful political themes. Reyes, who was born in Hidalgo del Parral in 1908, and her family, many of them were in the military, escaped to Mexico City as the Mexican Revolution began.
She entered the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria at the age of 13 and then the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes. She had her first solo exhibition at the ARS Gallery in 1925, but she later traveled to the United States, Cuba, and France to show her work.
Mujer de la guerra (1934), for example, presented a woman as both a mother and a warrior ready for battle. The woman is holding a gun in her left arm and her child in her right. Her work also dealt with the subject of education. Her 1936 painting Atentado a las maestras rurales – originally titled La maestra asesinada – depicts a man pulling a woman by the hair while holding money in his hand and stepping over books. Another man savagely attacks her with the butt of a gun. The books signify knowledge, the money represents the bourgeoisie's prosperity, and the rural instructor depicts the country's maternal figure.
Her paintings frequently addressed issues of poverty and labor rights, especially with the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Enseanza de la Repblica Mexicana (STERM), which subsequently became the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (SNTE). In July 1960, she offered to Alfonso Lozano Bernal, the secretary general of the Comité Ejecutivo Nacional, that she paint four murals at the Auditorio 15 de Mayo. The four murals together portray Mexico as a culturally rich country that is always progressing despite the challenges it faces. The country will move toward a future of peace and harmony as a result of the struggle of its leaders.
Woman of War
Due to the death of her kid, this picture depicts a lady preparing to fight in the war. The youngster was a war casualty because the mother lost her child and now has nothing left but to fight. Reyes earned the moniker "Magnolia Iracunda" for his outspokenness and political zeal (Fiery Magnolia).
She advocated for women's right to vote and hold elected civil office, as well as maternity leave extensions and acknowledgment of breastfeeding time for mothers with young children. She also advocated for the establishment of daycare centers for schoolteachers' children.
Remedios Varo was a gifted Spanish painter who lived and worked in Mexico. His art is a fascinating journey into the world of dreams, emotions, symbols, and the subconscious. Her works are dominated by strange, androgynous characters with almond-shaped eyes who are frequently engaged in a scientific or magical activity. Her father, a hydraulic engineer, has been a strong supporter of her artistic development since she was a child.
If you look closely at her works, you'll see that she frequently depicts water pipelines and strange structures. Salvador Dali, whom she met while studying at San Fernando Academy in Spain, was another influential figure throughout her life. He was the one who encouraged her to pursue a career as a surrealist painter. She was granted asylum in Mexico during the Spanish Civil War.
She met Diego Riviera, Frida Kahlo, and Leonora Carrington, who became a close friend, while she was there. Remedios Varo and Leonora Carrington had comparable artistic styles and imaginations, as well as a similar sense of comedy. They would invite strangers to supper, picking them at random from the phone book, or dish bizarre culinary experiments to their guests, such as an omelet cooked with human hair.
The Souls of the Mountain
Mountains rise from the light-imbued mist in this early piece, represented as narrow volcanic tubes. The tallest two have the heads of women who look like the artist. A translucent veil billows between them, while some others emit a windy plume, indicating active forces deep under these chimney tops. One of the women conjures her powers while encased in the rocky rocks, while the other summons an otherworldly slumber.
The work, which employs fumage, a Surrealist technique developed by Wolfgang Paalen that uses a candle flame to leave sooty marks across a freshly painted canvas, reveals that Varo, like many other Surrealist figures, enjoyed experimental methods as a way to limit one's own control and thus best represent the subconscious. However, it is less vital to be a "Surrealist" or to use a specific technique.
Varo becomes even more present by adding hints of candlelight. Varo feels intuitively connected to the energy of the candlelight and the mountain, thanks to his strong mythical and universalist ideas, the microcosm of an individual becomes the macrocosm of the earth, and he feels intuitively connected to the energy of the candles and the mountain. She highlights the intrinsic interconnectedness of all by painting over the fumage to create clouds whirling around and uniting the granite peaks.
One thing cannot exist without the other, as in the alchemical marriage of opposites: darkness without light, solidity without the gaseous, or Varo's strength without her fragility. The artist appears gigantic, wide awake, and confident in her own artistic ability, yet she is also dormant and vulnerable at this moment, overshadowed by a group of more established male artists and plagued by financial strain and political unrest.
Mara Izquierdo began her studies at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes in January 1928. (Academy of Fine Arts). Her migration to Mexico City in the 1920s inspired her to pursue her burgeoning interest for art at the same time that the country underwent a paradigm shift. At the same time, the Mexican Revolution ended, ushering in a shift in Mexican values.
Many new reform ideas were stressed by President Lvaro Obregón, who pushed for more social and educational institutions that preserved traditional Mexican beliefs and culture. These principles appealed to Izquierdo, and she decided to enroll in the art academy. Some have labeled Izquierdo as a surrealist painter, but she has never admitted to being one. Izquierdo, on the other hand, sided with the Contemporáneos, who believed that Mexican culture deserved to be recognized as an important contributor to the prevailing Western culture.
She wasn't scared to defy mainstream Mexican art styles and paint in her own unique way. Her mestiza culture was an important aspect of her artistic style and topics in her work. Izquierdo was praised as an artist who had a deep awareness of indigenous and rural cultures, and her altar paintings were praised for "their charming indigenous ingenuousness" at the time. Her unsophisticated painterly technique, which was meant to evoke area craftsmen' folk painting, added to the effect. Nonetheless, many of her paintings have strange subjects and juxtapositions.
Izquierdo's unusual presence in a Mexican nationalist discourse suggests possibilities to bring together multiple sets of discourses that are all too often kept apart: Latin American, feminist, modernist, and nationalist discourses. Nonetheless, many of her paintings have strange subjects and juxtapositions. Most of Izquierdo's paintings were done with oil paints or watercolors, and she was known for her use of strong, rich, and bright colors. Although she was and continues to be linked to Frida Kahlo because they both began their careers around the same time, the two women have completely different approaches. She started painting still life and portraits.
She dabbled in a variety of styles and methods, including oil painting, watercolor, still life, and landscape painting. Mara Izquierdo's career paved the way for numerous female musicians. The Mexican artist's reputation has been compared to that of Marie Laurencin of the School of Paris, and while she is not as well-known as Frida Kahlo, she was instrumental in the establishment of a foundation for female artists. In an area of highly politicized art, Izquierdo's painting stood out for its innovative depictions of Mexico, maintaining value in art anchored in traditional Mexican ideals.
Izquierdo only painted herself in the company of her family or by herself. She intended to emphasize her indigenous features in her self-portraits, for example, by wearing traditional jewelry that she also wore in her daily life. To her, it was a form of resistance (like against Frida Kahlo's) to the country's rapid urbanization, which consigned traditional attire to the status of costume.
We can see some of the primary characteristics of her work in this self-portrait, which was painted in 1940, such as the use of bright colors and the fact that she showed herself wearing traditional Mexican clothing, which was part of her nationalistic argument at the time.
Frida Kahlo was well-known for her portraits, self-portraits, and works inspired by Mexico's natural and cultural heritage. She used a naive folk painting style to investigate problems of identity, postcolonialism, gender, class, and race in Mexican society, inspired by the country's popular culture. Her paintings were frequently autobiographical and blended reality and imagination. Kahlo was a surrealist or magical realism, as well as a member of the post-revolutionary Mexicayotl movement, which aimed to create a Mexican identity.
She is well-known for her paintings depicting her chronic agony. Kahlo spent most of her childhood and adult life at La Casa Azul, her family's home in Coyoacán, which is now open to the public as the Frida Kahlo Museum. She was born to a German father and a mestiza mother. Despite having been afflicted by polio as a kid, Kahlo was a brilliant student on her way to medical school until she was killed in a bus accident when she was 18 years old, causing her permanent suffering and medical difficulties. During her recuperation, she rekindled her love in art from childhood, to become an artist. In 1927, Kahlo's political and artistic inclinations led her to join the Mexican Communist Party, where she met fellow Mexican artist Diego Rivera.
They married in 1929 and spent the late 1920s and early 1930s traveling together in Mexico and the United States. She established her creative style during this time, gaining inspiration from Mexican folk culture and painting largely miniature self-portraits that combined aspects from pre-Columbian and Catholic ideas. Her paintings piqued the interest of Surrealist artist André Breton, who organized Kahlo's first solo exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York in 1938; the show was a hit, and she had another in Paris in 1939. Despite the failure of the French exhibition, the Louvre acquired a painting by Kahlo, The Frame, making her the first Mexican artist to be included in their collection.
Kahlo's work as an artist was mostly obscure until the late 1970s when art historians and political activists rediscovered it. She was considered as an icon for Chicanos, the feminism movement, and the LGBTQ+ movement by the early 1990s, not just as a known person in art history but also as an icon for Chicanos, the feminism movement, and the LGBTQ+ movement. Kahlo's art has been hailed as a symbol of Mexican national and indigenous traditions, as well as by feminists for its uncompromising portrayal of the feminine experience and form.
The Two Fridas
Shortly after her divorce from Diego Rivera, she painted this painting. Frida's two personas are seen in this portrait. The classic Frida in Tehuana attire, with a broken heart, sits next to a free-spirited, modern Frida. Frida wrote about this artwork in her diary, claiming that it was inspired by a reminiscence of an imaginary childhood acquaintance. She later stated that it was an expression of her despair and loneliness as a result of her separation from Diego.
The two Fridas are holding hands in this picture. Both have visible hearts, with the classic Frida's heart being slashed and torn open. The major artery, which runs from the torn heart to the traditional Frida's right hand, is severed by surgical pincers held in the traditional Frida's lap. Her white dress is flowing with blood, and she is on the verge of passing out. Frida's inner torment may be reflected in the stormy sky with disturbed clouds.
The Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Institute of Fine Arts) in Mexico City purchased this painting in 1947. At the time, the buying price was 4,000 Pesos (about $1,000) plus 36 Pesos for the frame. That was the highest amount ever paid for an artwork by Frida Kahlo during her lifetime.
Leonora Carrington was a novelist and surrealist painter. She spent the majority of her adult life in Mexico City and was one of the few surviving surrealists of the 1930s. During the 1970s, Carrington was a founding member of the Mexican women's liberation movement. According to Carrington: "I created this painting for myself... I never expected anyone to buy or display my work." She, like other Surrealists in the movement, was uninterested in Sigmund Freud's writings. Instead, she focused on magical realism and alchemy, and her paintings were filled with autobiographical detail and symbolism.
Carrington was more interested in depicting female sexuality as she had experienced it rather than as male surrealists had depicted it. The underlying issue of women's role in the creative process is central to Carrington's work from the 1940s. The work of Carrington is identified and compared to that of the surrealist movement. There was a major examination of the female body within the surrealist movement, merging the enigmatic powers of nature. Women artists of the time used ironic postures to associate the female image with creative nature. When she painted, she employed small brushstroke methods to meticulously build up layers, resulting in rich images.
Portrait of Max Ernst
She met German Surrealist artist Max Ernst in 1937 and the two fell in love. The couple originally settled in Paris, then moved to Les Alliberts, a farmhouse north of Avignon. Ernst is depicted in the foreground, sporting a crimson fur or feather cloak with a fishtail. He wears a striped yellow sock on one foot and a green lantern with the figure of a rearing horse in his hand.
The countryside behind him is coated in ice, while another horse's figure is frozen and dripping with icicles. Carrington was notorious for refusing to have her art interpreted, although writers and historians have proposed various interpretations of this image. Horses were a major theme for the artist, and they frequently served as substitute self-portraits. As a result, the horses can be perceived as Carrington in the background, frozen and immovable, and as a prisoner caught by Ernst in the lantern.
This painting 'captures the complexity of Carrington's feelings of love and emancipation as well as owning up to the emotional captivity their relationship also meant for her,' according to author Marina Warner. During World War II, Carrington and Ernst split up, with Carrington finally staying in Mexico for the rest of her life.
Celia Calderón was best known for her engraving work but she was also noted for her oils and watercolors. She was a member of the Sociedad Mexicana de Grabadores, Taller de Gráfica Popular and the Salón de la Plástica Mexicana. Celia Calderon was born in the state of Guanajuato in 1921 to Felix Calderón and Enedina Olvera. In 1942, she entered the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas, where she became romantically involved with one of her professors, Julio Castellanos, who also influenced her artistic development.
She also studied at the Escuela de las Artes del Libre, learning graphic art under Francisco Díaz de León. In 1950 she received a scholarship from the British Council to study at the Slate School of Fine Art in London. In 1957, she was invited by the Soviet government to travel to China and study at the Beijing Artists’ Center where she also exhibited her work. Calderón began her career teaching at the Academy of San Carlos in 1946 due to her impressive watercolor skills. She continued teaching throughout her career including various generations of artists at the Sociedad para el Impulso de las Artes and the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas. She had her first individual exhibition in 1951, and during her lifetime, her work was presented in venues in Mexico, the United States, Canada, South America, and various European countries.
In 1947, she was invited to join the Sociedad Mexicana de Grabadores and in 1952, the Taller de Gráfica Popular. She was also a founding member of the Salón de la Plástica Mexicana. In 1955 she won the Salón de Otoño of the Salón de la Plástica Mexicana. She is best known for her graphic work although she also produced important oils and watercolors. She also worked with xylography, metal and linoleum etching, and intaglio.
Portrait of a Woman
Her watercolor work was praised by art critic Justino Fernández, considered the father of Mexican art history. Her imagery mostly consisted of popular personages with her graphic work focusing on Mexican heroes.
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