In preparation for this exhibition, three of the paintings were studied in the DMA’s paintings conservation studio. Using infrared photography, X-radiography, and microscopic examination, novel information was brought to light regarding Still Life with Parrot and Flag from 1951, Sun and Life from 1947, and Diego and Frida 1929–1944 from 1944. Infrared photography allows conservators to look through surface-level paint to the underlying preparatory layers. X-radiography, on the other hand, enables us to visualize compositional changes made in paint. This combination of imaging provided a fascinating new perspective into Frida Kahlo’s working methods.
Still Life with Parrot and Flag 1 Click here for interactive infrared view of Still Life with Parrot and Flag 1.
In Still Life with Parrot and Flag, an initial planning drawing done in both thin lines and wide ink strokes shows how Kahlo simplified compositional elements in the final painting, especially with regard to shifting the size and shape of the fruits.
Still Life with Parrot and Flag 2
The most labored part of the underdrawing shows several adjustments made to the parrot’s wing and beak, and changes made to the adjacent mango. The underdrawing observed in each painting made clear that Kahlo had a strong vision for the overall composition of each work, regardless of the subtle changes made in the painting process.Click here for interactive infrared view of Still Life with Parrot and Flag 2.