How did Georgia O' Keeffe and Frida Kahlo's relationships with their partners affect their subject matter?
Georgia O' Keefe was married to Alfred Stieglitz and Frida Kahlo was married to Diego Rivera. Both were maried to artists who were famous and already established.
Georgia O’Keeffe’s sexually charged flower paintings in the Jack-in-the-Pulpit series could have been a reaction to her husband’s explicit photographic images. Georgia was the subject of many of these photographs, and it is possible that her Jack-in-the-Pulpit paintings were her way of dealing with having herself exposed in such a way in the Stieglitz gallery for all to see.
Georgia O’Keeffe moved to New York City because of the encouragement of Alfred Stieglitz. At first, this was the inspiration for O’Keeffe’s cityscapes. O’Keeffe soon got tired of living in New York and of living with Alfred. This led her on a search for new surroundings which ultimately culminated in her discovery of the beauty of the deserts of New Mexico. This became both an escape for Georgia as well as the subject matter of many of her later paintings.
The subject matter of Frida Kahlo’s work often directly dealt with what was going on in her relationship to Diego Rivera. Frida would often turn a blind eye to Diego’s womanizing tendencies, but it is clear that it affected her state of mind and her feelings about herself. Most of Frida’s work is about pain and anguish of a physical and emotional nature. The physical pain came from a trolley accident when she was young that severely damaged her body; but the emotional pain came from having to deal with the exploits of her husband, who she really loved dearly.
Paintings such as The Two Fridas express this pain on very surreal terms. Two Fridas are indeed depicted here, connected by a single vein flowing to two exposed hearts. The figure on the right is holding an object. Gardners Art Through the Ages (10th edition) says on page 1077 that this object is a small portrait of Diego. The other figure is grasping a set of forceps after having cut one of the veins, in an attempt to sever herself from the other.