Frida Kahlo was more than a Mexican painter and poet. She was a survivor that knew how to transform obstacles into a source of creativity to create a body of work that transcended her life and turned her into an icon of Latin American art. Beyond her work, she is a reference and inspiration for Latin American women. Here, we share 10 facts about Frida Kahlo.
Frida was born in Mexico on July 6th, 1907, daughter of a German photographer and a Spanish painter. He had seven siblings, three of them from her father’s previous marriage.
The Blue House
From age three, Frida and her family lived in the famous Casa Azul, located in Coyoacán, in the Mexican capital. Today, the Blue House is home to the museum that carries her name. Those who visit can enjoy part of her artistic legacy and everyday objects that recreate the daily life of Frida and her husband, muralist Diego de Rivera.
Frida Kahlo was one of 35 female students accepted in the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria de Ciudad de México that, back then, had two thousand male students. At first, she wanted to study medicine but three years later she started taking illustration classes, and the rest is history.
Physical pain accompanied Frida throughout her life. At six years old she suffered from polio and from then on, was prevented from normal mobility. Then, at age 19, she had an accident when the bus she was traveling in hit a streetcar. The incident left her barren, and with multiple fractures all over her body. The disease, the accident, and more than thirty surgeries had a terrible effect on Frida, who spent her life suffering from chronic pain.
Frida Kahlo’s style
During her convalescence from the bus accident, Frida started to paint. It was then that she created her own artistic style, marked by complex imagery brimming with suffering. Although critics associated her with the surrealistic movement, she said her paintings were renderings of her own life.
Her marriage to muralist Diego de Rivera in 1929 was the happiest and, at the same time, most tormented event in her life. They later got divorced, and then got back together. The second time around, they shut out marital life and then lived their romantic lives separately.
Recognition and legacy
Between 1939 and 1949, Frida Kahlo solidified her pictorial work with shows in Paris, New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. In that decade, she painted El suicidio de Dorothy Hale, Las dos Fridas, Dos desnudos en un bosque, and Sandías (Viva la Vida), among other paintings. By that time, her work had already gotten praise from critics and other important artists like Picasso, Kandinsky, and André Bretón.
By the beginning of the 1950’s, Frida’s health had declined notably. The amputation of one leg, depression, and suicidal thoughts were with her, ‘till the day of her death on July 13, 1954. Her ashes are kept in the Blue House, which today acts as a museum dedicated to her life and work.
On May 10, 2014, the Frida Kahlo Museum shared for the first time on Facebook a letter the artist had written to her mother. It’s a brief missive in which she expresses her love and good wishes for her “Mamacita” on Mother’s Day, accompanied by an illustration.
Joy of living
Frida Kahlo transcended her pain and suffering and decided to appreciate and enjoy the life she had. About that she said: “Remember that every tic toc is a second of life that goes by and doesn’t repeat itself. There is in it so much intensity, so much interest, that there is only the problem of how to live it. To each one to resolve their own as best as they can.”
And with her talent and those words, we shall remember her.