On the face of it these two artists have little in common but after seeing the exhibitions of their works in Rome back to back I got to thinking about the similarities in their distinctive styles.
Neither are what you would call classically good-looking but both are immediately recognisable through their self portraits, most of which feature them staring, straight-faced at the viewer.
“I am the subject I know best”, said Frida Kahlo while Andy Warhol brazenly presented himself on a par with the other celebrities he idolised.
They made no attempt to airbrush out the flaws in their appearance. Kahlo’s amazing eyebrows and visible moustache challenge conventional notions of female beauty while by donning silver wig and maintaining an impassive expression Warhol seems to be saying ‘Yes, I’m a freak – what of it?’
Kahlo and Warhol both created their own realities and , at the same time, each cultivated an enigmatic air of mystery. They anticipated what anyone who craves their 15 minutes of fame now takes for granted, ie. the fine line between success and failure depends on how well you are able to control and manipulate your public image.
In their lifetimes Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón and Andrew Warhola achieved a cult following.
In death, exhibitions like these in Rome ensure they respectively maintain the kind of iconic status you suspect they individually knew was theirs by birthright.