Frida Kahlo self-portrait hangs in the Harry Ransom Center

Frida Kahlo Painting Returns to Ransom Center from South Africa

  • May 11, 2023

Frida Kahlo’s painting “Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird” returned home in March to the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin. The painting by the Mexican artist was previously on loan for five months at an art museum in South Africa.  

The painting has been featured in countless museums in the United States and countries such as Australia, Canada, France, Spain and Italy.  

“The look of excitement on people’s faces … When we take it out of the crate, the room is hushed,” said Ransom Center curator Tracy Bonfitto. 

UT Austin acquired the Frida self-portrait in 1966 from the collection of photographer Nickolas Muray, Kahlo’s friend and lover who purchased the painting to help Kahlo during a difficult financial period. Kahlo painted the work after her divorce from Diego Rivera and at the end of her affair with Muray.  

"The main selling point of the collection wasn't Frida Kahlo at all. She was a little-known artist at the time," explained Bonfitto. 

The painting is part of the Ransom Center's Nickolas Muray collection of more than 100 works of modern Mexican art. It includes other Kahlo artworks, such as “Still Life with Parrot and Fruit” (1951) and the drawing “Diego y Yo” (1930). 

The recently returned self-portrait will be displayed in the Ransom Center's lobby for the foreseeable future. 

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