The Mask
Be the first to vote…
mwilson's picture


Frida is so commercialized now that it’s impossible not to recognize her face.

She started the trend during her life by branding herself as a self-portrait-only artist but her face has exploded within pop culture. That makes this portrait shocking.

This painting is the first time that Frida hides her face from the viewer. Up until now Frida was proud to call herself “la Gran Ocultadora”, or “The Grand Concealer”, but here Frida’s concealer is cracking.

In Mexico, masks aren’t just an easy way to put a Halloween costume together. There, masks are used to express thoughts, culture, emotions, and beliefs during festivals. Lots of these festivals also end with the destruction of masks. Everyone likes a good mask burning, right?

It makes sense that Frida, to whom ancient Aztec culture was quite important, would use the traditional masks to show the emotions that she feels like she can’t show IRL.

Frida was having a rough time leading up to 1945. In 1941 her dad passed away (and Frida was a big daddy’s girl) which triggered a whole new tidal wave of depression for the already depressed artist. By 1943, Frida had been asked to start teaching art at La Esmeralda institution but had to leave after just a few months thanks to her less than effective immune system. By 1945, Frida’s life was a hot mess. She started keeping a diary to try to console herself, but she also got the chance to be photographed by Mexican photographer, Lola Alvarez.

When Frida was painting her self-portraits she was showing her emotions and her image, now the two parts of her had been split between her photographs and her journal. She probably felt like she still wasn’t really showing her true feelings of suffering, pain, and confusion.  Just like the indigenous Mexicans used masks to communicate during rituals, so did Frida. She let the mask do the crying that she felt she couldn’t.




  1. Beltran, Myriam. "Information About Mexican Masks." Classroom. Accessed December 31, 2017.
  2. Kettenmann, Andrea, and Frida Kahlo. "Frida Kahlo, 1907-1954: Pain and Passion." Google Books. 2000. Accessed December 31, 2017.
  3. O'Hagan, Sean. "Tales of Misery and Imagination." The Guardian. June 11, 2005. Accessed December 31, 2017.
  4. Stechler, Amy. "The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo." PBS. March 2005. Accessed December 31, 2017.
  5. "The mask." Google Arts & Culture. Accessed December 30, 2017.