Frida Kahlo. My Grandparents, My Parents, and I (Family Tree). 1936

Frida Kahlo

My Grandparents, My Parents, and I (Family Tree)


Oil and tempera on zinc
12 1/8 x 13 5/8" (30.7 x 34.5 cm)
Gift of Allan Roos, M. D., and B. Mathieu Roos
Object number
© 2017 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Painting and Sculpture
This work is on view on Floor 5, in a Collection Gallery, with 12 other works online.
Frida Kahlo has 3 works  online.
There are 2,378 paintings online.

Kahlo collected eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Mexico retablos—small paintings on metal made to thank God or saints for curing illnesses and performing miracles—and adopted the medium as her own. In this fantastical family tree, Kahlo depicted herself as a fetus in utero and as a child inside her childhood home. While Kahlo celebrated Mexican culture by invoking its traditions in her art and wearing elaborate traditional attire, this painting is as much a tribute to her European and Jewish heritage. On the right is her German-born Jewish father and his parents, symbolized by the sea, and on the left her Mexican mother and her parents, symbolized by the land and a faintly rendered map of Mexico that appears above her grandparents’ heads. Kahlo was fluent in German and closely monitored the rise of Nazism in Europe. She made this painting shortly after Hitler passed the Nuremberg laws, forbidding interracial marriage. While the painting adopts the format of genealogical charts used by the Nazis to advocate racial purity, Kahlo uses it subversively to affirm her mixed origins.

Gallery label from 2015

This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
The artist; sold through Julien Levy Gallery, New York to Allan (1906-1975) and Beatrice Roos, New York and San Francisco, 1938 [1]; acquired by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1976 (Gift of Allan Roos, M. D., and B. Mathieu Roos).
[1] Included in the exhibition Frida Kahlo, Julien Levy Gallery, New York, November 1-15,1938, no. 7 (My Family).

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