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


This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

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



Google ‘doodler’ explains genesis of Stravinsky birthday logo

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