Frida Kahlo Painting Sells For Record-Breaking $8 Million

It's a landmark for the artist and the entire Latin American art community.

Frida Kahlo painting
Getty Images

The work of Mexican painter , with its vibrant colors and emotional pulses, rarely fails to awe art lovers. Now, at a Christie's auction, one of her paintings has been sold for a truly awe-worthy price to match: $8 million.

"Dos desnudos en el bosque (La tierra misma)" — which translates to "Two Nudes in the Forest (The land itself)" — is a small 1939 canvas that portrays two naked women lying in a forest. It was Kahlo's first major work to be auctioned in six years, and the sale price was a world auction record not only for Kahlo, but for any Latin American artist.

According to , the piece represents longing and existential loneliness, and yet also conveys an unquestionable resilience. It was painted at the height of the transatlantic Surrealist art movement, during a time when Kahlo was suffering from worsening health and a separation from her husband, Diego Rivera. 

If you weren't an art major, here's a cheat sheet for the work's interpretation: The two female figures in the painting may represent competing forces of Frida Kahlo's heritage and personality, and the intentionally distressed background alludes to a storm brewing around an otherwise idyllic moment, according to Christie's. Kahlo's conflicts — aka questions about her sexuality, mixed ethnicity (her father was German while her mother was Spanish and indigenous Mexican) and contemplation of mortality and death — are embedded in the emotion. The reason for the nudity? It underscores a purity that places the scene in a confrontation between reality and a dream.

reports that the canvas was a gift for Kahlo's friend, film star , and last appeared at auction in 1989. Other paintings that sold at the auction included works by Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso. 

Frida Kahlo painting
© 2016 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


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