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Globe-trotting painting back in Austin

Jeanne Claire van Ryzin

It's arguably the most famous painting in Austin. It's certainly the best-traveled.

Frida Kahlo's 1940 "Self-Portrait With Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird" is back on view at the University of Texas' Ransom Center, which acquired the painting in 1966 along with the collection of photographer and Kahlo contemporary Nickolas Muray. Kahlo and Muray had an affair when both were in New York City in the late 1930s, and the photographer purchased the painting to help Kahlo out after her divorce from Diego Rivera left her broke. (Diego and Kahlo later remarried.)

The Ransom Center's Muray Collection contains two other Kahlo works and more than 100 pieces of modern Mexican art.

Since 1990, "Self-Portrait With Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird" has been on almost continuous loan, traveling (in its own special case and always with a personal escort) to more than 25 museums around the world. The painting even has its own online interactive map charting its global travels.

The painting went on view July 6, Kahlo's 104th birthday, and it will remain on view through Jan. 28, 2012, after which it joins the exhibit "In Wonderland: The Surrealist Activities of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States," organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.