Mexican portrait painter Frida Kahlo, who was married to Diego Rivera, is still regarded as a feminist icon.
Frida Kahlo, who is she?
A bus and a tram collision left Frida Kahlo with severe injuries, and she later started painting. She is regarded as one of Mexico’s greatest artists. Later, Kahlo got involved in politics and wed fellow communist artist Diego Rivera in 1929. In 1954, she displayed her artwork in Mexico and Paris.
Illustrations by Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo primarily created self-portraits. Some of his most significant works of art include:
Diego Rivera and Frieda (1931)
At the San Francisco Women’s Artists Association Sixth Annual Exhibition, Kahlo displayed this painting to depict the city where she and Rivera resided. The bleak painting that alluded to the couple’s turbulent relationship in the future depicts Kahlo holding Rivera’s hand while carrying a palette and brush. It was created two years after the couple’s marriage. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art now houses the portrait.
Hospital Henry Ford (1932)
Kahlo enhanced her artwork in 1932 by including graphical and surreal elements. In this image, a naked Kahlo is shown lying in a hospital bed with various objects surrounding her and tied to her with red and antique wires, including snails, flowers, pelvises, and more. The piece, like her earlier self-portraits, tells the tale of her second miscarriage and is a personal one for the artist.
The Dorothy Hale Suicide (1939)
Actress Dorothy Hale, a friend of Luce and Kahlo, had committed suicide earlier that year by jumping off a building, and Luce asked Kahlo to paint a portrait of her. The painting was meant to be a present for Hale’s distraught mother. But rather than painting a conventional portrait, Kahlo chose to depict the story of Hale’s tragic leap. Critics praised the work, but the boss was appalled by the finished painting.
Three Fridas (1939)
The paintings, which are among Kahlo’s most well-known pieces, feature two different images of the artist sitting side by side, each with an exposed heart. One Frida is almost entirely covered in white clothing, has a broken heart, and has blood stains all over it. The other has a strong heart and wears dark clothing. These figures are thought to represent Kahlo’s “loved” and “unloved” selves.
Breaking Column (1944)
In this painting, Frida is shown in her underwear in the center with her spine appearing as a disjointed decorative column. Through her art, Kahlo re-shared her physical turmoil. Additionally, a surgery uses glue or nails to cover the skin and fingers. In an effort to straighten herself out at this time, Kahlo underwent a number of surgeries and wore specialized corsets. He would keep trying different treatments that didn’t work for his persistent physical pain.
Alejandro Gómez Arias, a classmate with whom he had a romantic relationship, suffered serious injuries in a tram and bus collision on September 17, 1925. Kahlo suffered fractures to her spine as well as several other serious injuries, including her pelvis, as a result of the collision with a steel guardrail that went into her hip and protruded on the other side.
Kahlo spent several weeks recovering at the Red Cross Hospital in Mexico City before going back home to rest. During his recovery, he started painting and eventually completed his first self-portrait, which he presented to Gómez Arias the following year.
Francisco Rivera and Frida Kahlo
Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo wed in 1929 after meeting while working on a project in high school.
Despite spending some time apart after getting married, Kahlo and Rivera reunited in 1937 to assist exiled Soviet communist Leon Trotsky and his wife Natalia. In 1937, Trotsky spent some time together in his Blue House (Frida’s childhood home). He received protection in Mexico. Trotsky and Kahlo reportedly had a quick relationship at this time.
They have never been apart since their 1949 divorce.
Film about Frida Kahlo
In 2002, Salma Hayek and Alfred Molina played Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, respectively, in a film adaptation of the artist’s life. The Julie Taymor-directed movie received six Academy Award nominations and took home six of them.
Museum of Frida Kahlo
The birthplace and upbringing place of Frida Kahlo, also known as the Blue House or Casa Azul, became a museum in 1958. The Frida Kahlo Museum is situated in Mexico City’s Coyoacán neighborhood and features significant works by the artist. Viva la Vida (1954), Frida and Caesarean (1931), and Portrait of my father Wilhelm Kahlo are examples of such artwork (1952).
Book by Frida Kahlo
Interest in the artist was sparked by the 1983 publication of Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera. The biography discusses Kahlo’s upbringing, mishap, artistic career, union with Diego Rivera, interactions with the Communist Party, and romantic relationships.
On July 6, 1907, Frida Kahlo was born.
In Coyoacán, Ikica, Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón was born.
Education and Family
Wilhelm Kahlo, the father of Frida Kahlo, was a German photographer who immigrated to Mexico, where he met and wed Matilde. His sister Cristina was born a year after Frida, and he has two older sisters named Matilde and Adriana.
Kahlo was diagnosed with polio at age six, which caused her to spend 9 months in bed. She shrank as she walked as she recovered from the illness because the illness had damaged her right foot. In order to help her save her leg, her father encouraged her to wrestle—moves that were extremely uncommon for a girl at the time—play soccer at the time, go swimming, and even play soccer.
Kahlo enrolled in the renowned National Preparatory School in 1922. She was one of the few schoolgirls who was able to go to class, and she quickly gained a reputation for her positive outlook and love of traditional, vibrant attire and jewelry.
Kahlo went out with a group of peers who shared her political and intellectual views while she was a student. Kahlo increased her political involvement by joining the Mexican Communist Party and the Young Communist League.
Career in the Arts
Despite not considering herself a Surrealist, Kahlo made a friend with Andre Breton in 1938, who was a key figure in this literary and artistic movement. She held a sizable exhibition at her New York City gallery that same year, and 25 of the pieces sold nearly half of the total. There were payments made for the paintings displayed there, including one from renowned magazine editor Clare Boothe Luce.
Kahlo relocated to Paris in 1939 and stayed there for a while. There, she displayed some of her artwork and made friends with other artists like Marcel Duchamp and Pablo Picasso.
In 1941, the Mexican government commissioned Kahlo to paint five significant portraits of Mexican women; however, she was unable to complete the task. That year, she lost her adored father and struggled with persistent health issues. Despite his personal struggles, his work kept getting more and more attention, and this time he participated in several group performances.
Kahlo’s first solo exhibition took place in Mexico in 1953. Kahlo attended the exhibition opening despite being bedridden at the time. Kahlo arrived by ambulance and spent the evening socializing with the guests while relaxing in the four-poster bed that had been set up in the gallery especially for her.
Following Kahlo’s passing, the feminist movement of the 1970s rekindled its interest in the artist, her life, and her work—which many see as a representation of female creativity.
Death of Frida Kahlo
On July 13, 1954, a few days after turning 47, Kahlo passed away in her cherished Blue House. The cause of his passing is a subject of some conjecture. Although a pulmonary embolism was initially thought to be the cause, there have been grave allegations of suicide.
In 1950, Kahlo’s health issues got worse. Kahlo spent nine months in the hospital after being told she had gangrene in her right foot; during that time, she underwent several operations. She continued to support politics despite her limited mobility. To stop the spread of gangrene, part of Kahlo’s right leg had to be amputated in 1953.
Deeply furious, Kahlo was admitted to the hospital once more in April 1954—possibly for medical reasons or, as some accounts suggest, for an attempted suicide. He was admitted back to the hospital with bronchial pneumonia two months later. Despite her physical limitations, Kahlo continued her political activism.