A symbol of resilience, strength, and freedom of individuality, Frida Kahlo was more than just a painter and a fashion icon; she was a woman with a voice meant for honest expression. She lived a life full of tragedies, but despite this she was able to transcend something so meaningful and fulfilling to her life. She is enigmatic, yet relatable; she was bound to gender norms, yet insisted on being free. Frida Kahlo is a woman who belonged to no one but herself, who defined her OWN standards of beauty, and who dictated that disabilities are never a ground for being ‘disabled’.
Profile of Frida Kahlo
- Full Name: Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón
- Known as: Frida Kahlo -- she is also known as the “la heroina del dolor” (The heroine of pain) in Mexico
- Parents: Wilhelm Guillermo (father), a German photographer who came to Mexico; Matilde (mother)
- Sisters: Matilde, Adriana, and Cristina -- Frida is the third child
- Date of Birth and Birthplace: July 6, 1907 in Coyocoan, Mexico City, Mexico -- she grew up in what was known as the Casa Azul (Blue House). Today, it is known as the Frida Kahlo Museum.
- Spouse: Diego Rivera (painter)
- Frida means “peace”, which comes from the German word Fried
- Frida was one of the few female students studying at the premier Escuela Nacional Preparatoria in 1922. There she met her husband, Diego Rivera. At that time, Frida was only 15, while Diego was 36. But it was only in 1928 that Frida and Diego started having a serious relationship. They married the following year.
- Work Count: 143 paintings, 55 of which were self-portraits.
- “When asked why she painted so many self-portraits, Frida replied: "Because I am so often alone....because I am the subject I know best."” (derived from FridaKahlo.com)
- She had polio at the age of 4, and was involved in a serious bus accident at 18. During her latter accident, she was impaled by a handrail, which resulted to damages to her collarbone, ribs, pelvis, shoulder, spine, and foot, among others.
- Kahlo was a devoted feminist, and had strong political views. She was a member of the Young Communist League and the Mexican Communist Party. She and Diego were active communists.
- Most of her paintings dealt with pain and suffering. A few of these specifically dealt on her multiple miscarriages, her injuries caused by a serious accident at 18, and her husband’s infidelities.
- Frida considered her unibrow and mustache an asset, which was so evident in her paintings.
- Frida was openly bisexual. She had affairs with Josephine Baker, and reportedly Leon Trotsky.
- Andre Breton, Frida’s close friend who later on gave her her first exhibit at the Louvre, once said that “The art of Frida is a ribbon around a bomb.” Frida underwent a lot of operation, counting up to 30. Most of which were unsuccessful.
1953 marked the year where she showcased her first solo exhibition. At this time, her health was deteriorating and she was bedridden. Her doctors advised her to stay in bed but her strong character led her to attend the event. She arrived in an ambulance, while a four- poster bed was installed in the gallery for her.
In the same year, her right leg had to be amputated because of a gangrene infection. Her health eventually worsened, she then retreated to the Casa Azul, and about a week after her 47th birthday, she died in her house. She was said to have died due to pulmonary embolism but there are reports circulating that it was possibly suicide.