Frida Kahlo was a Mexican artist who is celebrated all over the world. She is known for her memorable self-portraits, chaotic lifestyle, and political affiliation. Kahlo was born in Coyoacán, Mexico in 1907 to a Mexican mother and German father. Most of Frida’s art derives from personal experiences. Her paintings often provided a vivid portrayal of Mexican culture with a hint of surrealism.
I paint myself, because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.
– Frida Kahlo
Her work represents multiple moments of heartbreak, life, celebration, Mexican culture, and politics. One of her most famous pieces, The Broken Column (1944), was a self-portrait. This particular painting is interesting because it features the aftermath of a car accident that left her bedridden for the second time in her life.
Onlookers of the painting will see a forward facing Kahlo with a nude torso split in half before an empty terrain. The piece is meant to reflect upon the pain, and suffering Kahlo endured during her recovering years. She placed a column in place of her spine which accentuates the solemn look upon her face, with tears sliding down her cheeks.
The towel wrapped around her waist pays homage to Christianity and seems to indicate a possible relation to Christ’s sheet as well as the nails piercing her skin. This kind of allusion is not surprising in her art because Mexico’s religion is predominantly Catholic, even today.
This painting was set to reflect the traffic accident Frida endured at 18 and the health defects that tormented her the rest of her days. Doctors were fairly certain that she would never walk again; however, Frida was not one to let anyone else decide her circumstance in life, not even medical professionals.
After being bedridden for quite a while, Frida walked. However she now had a whole new set of issues on her hands, how would she provide for her family? The time spent off her feet was spent painting.
She linked up with Diego Rivera, a prominent local painter, and an artist was born. They married in 1929. Rivera and Kahlo shared a love of art and communism. Diego and Frida were active in politics. They had political ties to Leon Trotsky, who is also reported to be one of Frida’s many lovers.
Rivera was the man of the hour in the art world, and because of this, he also had a wandering eye. He was not a looker, but what he lacked in appearance he made up for in talent and charisma.
The marriage did not assuage his lustful ways, and Frida did understand her husband was pretty much incapable of a monogamous relationship. The matrimony eventually ended in 1939 after Kahlo caught Diego with her sister. The couple remarried in 1940 and remained together until her death in 1954.
Their home, La Casa De Azul, is now considered a living heirloom. Upon her death, Diego Rivera made sure to leave her home untouched and turned it into a museum so everyone could continue to admire her ways of living even after Frida’s passing. The house is full of Mexican art and decor dating back to the 1920s.
In a lot of ways, Frida’s art is a visual autobiography that continues to teach lessons to art lovers and historians. When someone born in 1907 says things that are still relevant to society in 2019, people tend to pay attention.
“Frida Kahlo Biography.” Frida Kahlo Biography. Creative Commons License, 2002. Web. 02 Feb. 2017.