Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter who is well known for her self-portraits. Frida earned herself a spot as Feminist Icon in today's society.
Frida Kahlo was born on July 6th, 1907 in Coyoacan, a small village located within Mexico City. Frida was the daughter of Matilde Calderon and Guillermo Kahlo, a German photographer. Frida is one of four children and grew up in her family's home named Casa Azul (Blue House).
Frida Kahlo lived in her blue home from 1907-1954. It was turned into a museum in 1958.
At the age of six. Frida Kahlo contracted polio, a virus that damages the nervous system. Frida had to be put on bed rest for nine months until she recovered from the illness. Although Frida had recovered from the illness, she had damage in her right leg and foot causing her to limp whenever she walked.
On September 17, 1925 at the age of 18, Frida suffered from a bus accident causing her to be severely injured from her spinal cord to her hips. Doctors believed that Frida wouldn't make it. But because of her accident, Frida began to paint during her recovery. She finished her first self-portrait, a year after her accident.
Frida was very close to her father and played a lot of sports growing up like soccer, swimming and wrestling / boxing. She was also known to have dressed up in men's clothing.
In 1922, Diego Rivera caught Frida Kahlo's eye. Diego Rivera was also a painter. Years later, Diego and Frida reconnected in 1928. They married in 1929 but their marriage was very hectic. They divorced and remarried in 1940 but even after being remarried, they still had a lot of problems.
Frida identified herself as bisexual. Diego was identified as a "ladies man". Both of them had affairs while they were married. Diego had an affair with Frida's youngest sister Cristina. Frida had an affair with Leon Trotsky and other women. Diego accepted the fact that Frida was having affairs with other women but he grew jealous when it came to her having affairs with men.
Despite the fact of having a lot of problems in their marriage, Frida and Diego loved each other a lot and also needed each other.
Frida Kahlo was also politically active. She was known to be a communist like her husband Diego Rivera.
"I paint myself because I am often alone and I am the subject I know best"
Frida Kahlo painted 143 paintings and 55 of them are self-portraits which depict her physical and psychological wounds.
"I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality."
Frida's painting would revolve around her marriage, her miscarriages and operations that she's had,symbolizing her pain
Kahlo's painting "Henry Ford Hospital" depicts the story of her second miscarriage.
Frida often used monkey's in her paintings to symbolize them as tender and protective.
Self-Portrait with Monkey
Frida Kahlo was greatly influenced by the indigenous Mexican culture and can be seen in her paintings because of the bright colors and symbolism that she uses.
The Broken Column
My Nurse and I
My Grandparents, Parents and Me
Self-portrait in a Velvet Dress
In 1941, the Mexico government had Frida paint 5 portraits of important Mexican women but failed to finish. Frida also lost her father in 1941.
Frida Kahlo had many surgeries done because of her bus accident and she also had to wear special back braces (corsets) in order to fix her back.
Kahlo struggled a lot with her chronic physical pain and sought for treatments but had little success.
As Frida spent nine months in the hospital after being diagnosed with gangrene, she was still politically active and kept painting.
In 1953, Frida had her first solo exhibition in Mexico. Even though she was on bedrest, she still made it to her opening for her exhibition. She arrived in an ambulance and celebrated her opening in a four-poster bed set.
Sadly, Frida had to get part of her right leg amputated because the doctors needed to stop the gangrene from spreading. She fell in depression and found herself to be hospitalize in 1954 because of her health once again. Some say that it could of been because of a suicide attempt.
July 13, 1954 marks the day that Frida Kahlo passed away. Frida passed away a week after her 47th birthday in her Casa Azul.
Her Casa Azul is now open to the public as a museum. Frida's remains can also be found inside her home in a vessel shaped into a frog.
Frida Kahlo has left a great mark in our history. She's seen as a feminist icon today especially during the second wave of feminism.