Frida Kahlo’s “Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird” at Harry Ransom Center

Frida Kahlo's "Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird"

Ken Grant inspects lighting for Frida Kahlo’s “Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird.” Photo by Pete Smith.

Ken Grant inspects lighting for Frida Kahlo’s “Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird.” Photo by Pete Smith.

The Ransom Center celebrates the homecoming of one of its most famous and frequently borrowed art works, the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s “Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird” (1940).

The painting is on display in the Ransom Center’s lobby through December 31, 2017.

Since 1990 the painting has been featured in exhibitions in more than 25 museums in the United States and around the world, including Australia, Canada, France, Spain, Mexico and Italy.

The painting was most recently on view at the New York Botanical Garden’s exhibition FRIDA KAHLO: Art, Garden, Life, which had record-breaking attendance of more than 525,000 visitors.

Kahlo (1907-1954) taught herself how to paint after she was severely injured in a bus accident at the age of 18. For Kahlo, painting became an act of cathartic ritual, and her symbolic images portray a cycle of pain, death and rebirth.

Kahlo’s affair in New York City with her friend, the Hungarian-born photographer Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), which ended in 1939, and her divorce from the artist Diego Rivera at the end of the year, left her heartbroken and lonely. But she produced some of her most powerful and compelling paintings and self-portraits during this time.

Muray purchased the self-portrait from Kahlo to help her during a difficult financial period. It is part of the Ransom Center’s Nickolas Muray collection of more than 100 works of modern Mexican art, which was acquired by the Center in 1966. The collection also includes “Still Life with Parrot and Fruit” (1951) and the drawing “Diego y Yo” (1930) by Kahlo.

December 12: Holiday Shopping Crawl


’Tis the season to shop local! Join Austin’s Cultural Campus for a holiday shopping crawl featuring artful treasures from the Blanton Museum, Bullock Museum, Harry Ransom Center, LBJ Library and Museum, and Texas Memorial Museum. Mention Austin’s Cultural Campus for a 20% discount at each institution.

Plus, sign up at any location to be entered in a special prize package drawing! The winner will receive museum memberships, exhibition catalogues, ornaments, museum swag, and more.


Blanton Museum: 11am – 5pm
Bullock Museum: 9am – 5pm
Harry Ransom Center: 12pm – 5pm
LBJ Library and Museum: 9am – 5pm
Texas Memorial Museum: 9am – 5pm

Please note that admission to each institution is not included.

50th Anniversary of the Higher Education Act

Tomorrow, Nov. 8 marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s signing of the Higher Education Act.

President Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson at the Higher Education Act signing event.

President Johnson signed the Higher Education Act on Nov. 8, 1965 at his alma mater, Southwest Texas State College, now Texas State University, in San Marcos, Texas.

Inside a packed gymnasium, he spoke of the lessons he learned in college, about his experiences as a teacher, and he called education the key to the future.

The act, which is the major law that governs federal student aid, was intended “to strengthen the educational resources of our colleges and universities and to provide financial assistance for students in postsecondary and higher education.” It increased federal money given to universities, created scholarships, gave low-interest loans to students, and established a National Teachers Corps. The original law, which was part of Johnson’s “Great Society” domestic agenda, has been reauthorized nine times through the years.

The LBJ Library is marking the anniversary by examining the passage and success of the act in 1965: A Legislative Revolution, on display this month in the Great Hall of the LBJ Library. Come see what President Johnson did to help further higher education for all. Plan your visit.

We’ve also put together an online media kit of related Higher Education Act archival materials including photos, text, and the daily diary from signing day; photos of Johnson as a student at Southwest Texas State College; and a 50th anniversary commemorative video by Texas State University. All are public domain.

Final weeks to see “Natalie Frank” at the Blanton

On view at the Blanton Museum of Art through November 15, 2015, Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm features more than 30 gouache and pastel drawings by artist Natalie Frank, a New York-based Austin native. This presentation explores the nineteenth-century fairy tales of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, including well-known stories such as Cinderella and Snow White, and more obscure tales such as The Lettuce Donkey and The Ungrateful Son. Written between 1812 and 1857, and subsequently translated into more than 160 languages, the Grimm’s fairy tales are known and loved by children the world over. What is less known is that these stories were originally intended for adults, with later editions expunged of sexuality and violence. For this body of work, Frank uses the original, often graphic versions of the narratives as a point of departure, examining the vast emotional, physical, and intellectual transformation of the stories’ female characters. Frank renders key scenes from each fairy tale, investigating the ways in which they address gender, sexuality, and complex familial dynamics.

Learn more about the exhibition on the Blanton’s website.

Learn about Public Art Placement on the Upcoming Landmarks Tour

Artists who create works for public areas consider the surrounding environment as part of the installation. Join Landmarks for an hour-long walking tour of campus and compare the placement of loaned objects versus site-specific works in the public art collection.

Meet at 11 a.m. on Sunday, November 1 at Joel Perlman’s Square Tilt, near the entrance to the Perry-Castañeda Library (map) at The University of Texas at Austin. Free and open to the public.

“Twenty-four Hours with the Herd” performance with Graham Reynolds

Award-winning Austin composer Graham Reynolds re-imagine Texas artist Frank Reaugh’s groundbreaking 1933 performance Twenty-four Hours with the Herd during two performances on Friday, November 13, 2015 in the Texas Spirit Theater at the Bullock Museum. Featuring special musical guest Redd Volkaert and narration by Austin writer Gene Fowler, the performances brings to life seven panoramic pastel landscapes that constitute Reaugh’s landmark work through projections, live music, and 4D effects. This performance is presented in collaboration with the Bullock Museum’s current Tom Lea exhibition.

Ransom Center and Bullock Museum members who purchase tickets to the 7:15 p.m. performance receive exclusive access to a 6 p.m. reception. Enjoy cocktails and conversation with Bullock Museum and Harry Ransom Center curators as they further explore Frank Reaugh, the original performance of Twenty-four Hours with the Herd, Tom Lea, and the careers of these two Texas contemporaries.

 Purchase tickets online.
View the exhibition Frank Reaugh: Landscapes of Texas and the American West, which includes the seven panoramic landscapes of Twenty-four Hours with the Herd, at the Harry Ransom Center through November 29.

Visual Arts Center presents the Strange Pilgrims Symposium

November 14, 2015
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.Location TBD

The Visual Arts Center hosts a symposium that brings together scholars and critics, as well as The University of Texas at Austin faculty and students, to discuss a variety of themes connected to the multi-venue exhibition Strange Pilgrims. Esteemed speakers include Andrea Lissoni, senior curator of International Art (Film) at Tate Modern; Valerie Smith, freelance curator and writer; Ann Reynolds, associate professor of Art History in the Department of Art and Art History and the Center for Women’s & Gender Studies in the College of Liberal Arts; Michael Smith, professor of Studio Art in Transmedia in the Department of Art and Art History;Rachel Stuckey, MFA candidate in Studio Art; and Department of Art and Art History PhD candidates in Art History Dorota Biczel, Kate Green and Robin Williams.

Check out website for updates!

October is Tom Lea Month

Tom Lea - Lonely Town


October is one of the very best times of the year, in part because it’s Tom Lea Month! Celebrate this iconic Texas artist and writer with the first comprehensive collection of paintings, illustrations, full-scale prints of murals in the Bullock Museum’s new exhibition Tom Lea: Chronicler of 20th Century America.

El Paso native Tom Lea (1907-2001) depicted both the hauntingly beautiful Southwest and his experience as artist-correspondent. More than 40 original artworks, artifacts, and large-scale prints on loan from private collections and museums  are on view at the museum. Lea’s work is highly personal — exploring his own life and depicting the lives of 20th-century Americans, from the struggles of the Great Depression to those serving abroad in the military. Lea’s work was featured in the White House, Life magazine, and in Hollywood films.

Tom Lea: Chronicler of 20th Century America will be on view through Jan. 3, 2016, and is a collaboration among the Bullock Texas State History Museum, the Tom Lea Institute, and the Texas State History Museum Foundation. For details on ticket prices, programs, and more, visit or call (512) 936-8746. Explore other Tom Lea Month events and programs around the Southwest, learn more at

Associated Events

Lunchtime Lecture: Tom Lea, a Texas Legend

Thursday, October  15  //  12 p.m. – 1 p.m.

Member-Exclusive Tom Lea Reception

Thursday, October  15  //  6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Join the Visual Arts Center for the opening of Strange Pilgrims

Opening Reception at the Visual Arts Center
Sunday, September 27  //  noon – 2 p.m.

Strange Pilgrims is an exhibition organized by The Contemporary Austin and spans multiple venues that include the museum’s Jones Center and Laguna Gloria locations in addition to the Visual Arts Center.

The exhibition begins with the metaphorical notion of the traveler: an open-ended journey through strange and unfamiliar spaces, embarking on a pilgrimage not only in time and place but also through imagination, the senses, and perception. Strange Pilgrims brings together a collection of experiential-based ideas and projects proposing unconventional gestures and formats, defining “experiential art” as work that is immersive, participatory, performative, or kinetic, and favoring art from the vantage point of the phenomenological experience. Taking its title from a collection of twelve short stories of the same name by the writer Gabriel García Márquez, Strange Pilgrims is The Contemporary Austin’s first large-scale, thematic group exhibition.

Strange Pilgrims includes work by artists: Charles Atlas, Trisha Baga, Millie Chen, Phil Collins, Andy Coolquitt, Ayşe Erkmen, Roger Hiorns, Nancy Holt, Lakes Were Rivers, Angelbert Metoyer, Bruce Nauman, Yoko Ono, Paul Sharits, and Sofía Táboas.


Strange Pilgrims Symposium
Saturday, November 14  //  10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Focus Group: Pilgrim’s Process
Thursday, January 21  //  7–9 p.m.