« Previous | Culture Monster Home | Next »

Google celebrates Frida Kahlo's 103rd birthday by doctoring its logo -- and her self-portrait

July 6, 2010 |  7:22 pm

If an image of a painting that pops up on a computer screen can be considered a viewing, then Frida Kahlo may be setting a record today for the most glimpses of an artist's self-portrait -- thanks to Google, which is marking her 103rd birthday by incorporating her art into the Google logo on its search engine.

This tradition of "Google doodles" to mark holidays, birthdays and other special occasions goes back to 1999.

In order to make Kahlo's birthday a happier one, however, the Google artists seem to have taken some liberties to make the 1940 self-portrait upon which the doodle image appears to be based a tad more festive -- and perhaps to skirt the need for copyright approval.

Instead of the necklace of thorns the artist wears in the painting that most closely resembles the doodle, Google has outfitted her with a necklace made of bone that's seen in another self-portrait. Also understandably absent are the bloody droplets and scratches seen on Kahlo's throat in the thorn-necklace image. And the Google birthday girl sports a rich blue robe, replacing the drab greenish-brown one in the original.

But when it comes to birthdays, it's the thought that counts -- no? Kahlo joins Karel Capek, Anton Chekhov, Norman Rockwell, Frederic Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Antonio Vivaldi, Napoleon Orda, Robert Schumann and Django Reinhardt among playwrights, musicians and visual artists whom Google has doodled to mark their birthdays so far in 2010.

The tradition goes back to 1999, when Google artists began tinkering with the search engine logo to mark special people, occasions and events. They include a couple of turns by notable guest artists: Jeff Koons providing a bouquet of colorful metallic lollipop-looking shapes on April 30, 2008, and Shepard Fairey doing the honors on an image of Martin Luther King Jr. to celebrate King's birthday on Jan. 19, 2009.

The official word from company spokesman Gabriel Stricker: "Google doodles aim to celebrate interesting events and anniversaries around the world that reflect Google's personality and love of art and innovation. In honoring Frida Kahlo's birthday, we're continuing a tradition of celebrating artists who have transcended their genre to become cultural icons that have made a lasting impact on people around the world."

For all the doodles to date, click here.

-- Mike Boehm

Photo: Frida Kahlo birthday image. Credit: Google


Google Google 'doodler' explains genesis of Stravinsky birthday logo

Today's Google Doodle? It's a 170th birthday present for Tchaikovsky 

Comments () | Archives (20)

Bravo to Google for honoring an amazing artist! I visited Google multiple times today (same as everyday) and was pleased everytime I saw Frida.

wow did not know thAT

I got kind of surprised to see the image of Frida in your main page. Cheers for remembering such a sensitive, brave artist.

No idea who this is. looked her on wiki, i guess there was even a movie about her in '08. Still no idea who this is, some mexican painter chick who got some worldwide attention 80 years ago. good for her.

why is this article more about google doodles then it is about the painter chick?

He Art is an amazing honor - to be gifted by Goofle, oops, I mean, Google.

muchas felicidadez para esta gran personalidad mundial frida kahlo y un gran aplauso para google el buscador #1 del planeta por este cumple ano de frida. gracias amigos de todo el mundo gracias. thank you google.

i think frida kahlo is a worthy subject though there is another great bday today also- The dahlai lama!!!!

Google has a lot of power being an information portal which governs the consciousness of billions of people through ordering searches and picking images. They should avoid playing the game of influencing people. Many people have been talking about this and I have witnessed this power being used to influence political debates such as the oil spill and certain government programs. It is a dangerous game played by those who may have an active political agenda. More transparency on the selection process might ease anxiety about this issue. I applaud the effort and the mission to do no evil but remain sensitive to this issue.

I'm very impressed with this world-wide support for famous artists. I always enjoy the Google Doodles, which are a wonderful way to inject creativity as part of our everyday lives.

holy hell google, "release the BEAST!"

Wow, I cannot wait to get this beastly, uni-brow, man looking woman off of Google... everyone here agrees except the ugly, self-centered feminists who somehow see -- on some other planet-- that her self-portraits are some type of godly art work..... far from it people, far from it. Why do you think nobody knows about this lady except feminist mexicans? because she is the only good feminist painter they've had.. and ever will!

did I mention she has a unibrow and looks like a man in EVERY picture on google? OOOUUUUGHHHHH, what a disgrace to women.

I do applaud her living a goood life, but dont try to spread this nonsense on society like its some hidden gem! holy god could google have picked an uglier person on earth? (HONESTLY, no seriously, honestly!)

Though I have always enjoyed Ms. Kahloh's artistic works; from your commits it seems that she she is now being more honored more for her political and sexual orientation than for her body of work. This tragic figure should be remembered more by her friends and family and less by usurping wanna-bees.

Thanks Google, I am from Mexico and today, you make me feel very proud of my roots. Viva Mexico!! Gracias.

In the Words of Austin Powers "THATS A MAN BABY"

coulda sworn they taught a lesson on her in art class awhile back i told the art teacher in a way she looked like a man lol thats nice of you guys though to show appreciation like that though

Google is pathetic. A dead communist bisexual is not worth honoring with anything. Look it up. This is just another attempt by Google to push a liberal agenda and it's why I gave up on them a long time ago.

@Sam; most of the greatest artists of the 20th century were Communists. What does the fact that she is dead or was a bisexual have to do with her artistic worth? You don't know anything.
@jzi; you don't know anything about art. any one who does knows frida.
@Groono, not waxing one's face does not make one a man. & she is probably the most famous female artist of all time and most people with a basic art education know who she is.

I was very surprised when I saw Frida.... on Google, I love her paintings, she was a woman with ideas and attitudes that were ahead of her time (especially, in her country - Mexico)...my hat goes off to you for recognizing such a treasure!


Recommended on Facebook

In Case You Missed It...


Explore the arts: See our interactive venue graphics


Tweets and retweets from L.A. Times staff writers.