Frida Kahlo, wholly Frida Kahlo de Rivera, but whose original name was Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón, was born on July 6, 1907 in Coyoacán, Mexico; and died on July 13, 1954 in his hometown. The artist Frida Kahlo was considered one of the greatest artists of Mexico. Painter remembered for her self-portraits, which contained pain and passion, bold colors, in addition to her vibrant paintings dealing with themes such as identity, the human body, and death. Although she adamantly denied it, she is often identified as a surrealist. Kahlo became politically active, marrying communist artist Diego Rivera in 1929 (married 1929, divorced 1939, remarried 1940).
Kahlo was the daughter of a German father of Hungarian descent and a Mexican mother of Spanish and Native American descent. Kahlo's father, Wilhelm (also called Guillermo), was a German who had immigrated to Mexico, where he met and married her mother Matilde. She had two older sisters, Matilde and Adriana, and her younger sister, Cristina, was born a year after Kahlo.
Later, during her artistic career, Kahlo, proud of her identity, called her ancestry as binary opposites: the European colonial side and the Mexican indigenous side.
Around the age of six, Kahlo contracted polio, for which she had to be bedridden for nine months. in his recovery, he walked with a limp because the disease had damaged his right leg and foot.
Her father was somewhat ahead of his time and encouraged her to play soccer, swim and even fight - moves not very popular for a girl at the time - to help her recover, but she would be left with a chronic illness that she would suffer from throughout the years. of their life. Kahlo was very close to her father, who was a professional photographer, often helping him in his studio, where she developed an eye for detail. Although Frida took some drawing classes, her real interest was science, and in 1922, she enrolled in the renowned National Preparatory School. She was one of the few students to attend the school and became known for her jovial spirit and love of colorful and traditional clothing and jewelry, as well as becoming involved with a group of like-minded students politically and intellectually. Increasingly active politically, Frida Kahlo joined the Young Communist League and the Mexican Communist Party.
While there, he met Rivera, who was working on a mural for the school's auditorium.
On September 17, 1925, Frida and Alejandro Gómez Arias, an old school friend with whom she had a love affair, were traveling together on a bus when the vehicle collided with a streetcar. As a result of the collision, Kahlo was pierced by a steel handrail, which went into her hip and came out the other side, she suffered several serious injuries, including fractures to her spine and pelvis. Due to this spectacular accident, Frida had to be operated on in an operating room more than 30 times during her life.
After staying in the Red Cross Hospital in Mexico City for several weeks, Kahlo returned home to further recover. To make her recovery more bearable, Frida taught herself to paint, in addition to reading more frequently, as she studied the ancient art of the great masters.
She began painting and her first self-portrait which was Self-Portrait in a Velvet Dress (1926), Frida painted a beautiful waist-length portrait of herself against a dark background with wavy stylized waves. With an abstract style, and the soft modeling of her face, Frida shows her interest in realism. The Stoic gaze so prevalent in his later art is already evident, and his excessively long neck and fingers reveal his interest in the Mannerist painter Il Bronzino. When he finished his first self-portrait, he gave it to Gómez Arias.After recovering, Frida joined the Mexican Communist Party (PCM), where she met Rivera again. She showed him some of her work and he encouraged her to continue painting.
In 1929, Frida Kahlo married Diego Rivera. Whom he had met in 1922, at the National Preparatory School. Rivera had gone to paint a mural called The Creation, this was located in the conference room of the institution.
According to some reports, she told a friend that one day she would have Rivera's baby.
Shortly after marrying Rivera Frida made a transcendental decision in her life, she changed her personal and pictorial style, this image would be the one that many of us would remember of this art heroine. She began to wear the traditional Tehuana dress that became her personal hallmark. This outfit consisted of a flower headdress, a loose-fitting blouse, gold jewelry, and a long, ruffled skirt.
Frida was painting works while traveling through the United States of America between 1930 and 1933 with Rivera, since Diego had received several commissions for murals in different cities of the country. In the course of this period, she had to deal with a couple of failed pregnancies. Some time after going through an unwanted abortion and the death of her mother, Frida painted some of her most extreme works. Kahlo is admitted to Henry Ford Hospital, and while there she painted a picture of herself naked and bleeding in a hospital bed in the middle of an arid landscape.
The painting Frida and Diego Rivera (1931) expresses two things; first her new outfit and second but not least her taste for Mexican folk art. Frida exhibited this painting in the city of San Francisco where she lived with her husband Rivera, at the Sixth Annual Exhibition of the Women's Society. In the painting the couple is represented, Kahlo gently holds the hand of her partner Diego while he takes a palette and brushes with the other hand, a very rigid pose that according to many experts predicted their troubled relationship.
The work now lives in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
In 1933 Kahlo and Rivera lived in New York. Rivera had one of the most famous assignments of his in his life. Made by Nelson Rockefeller himself, it was to adorn a wall in the RCA building in Rockefeller Center. Rivera initiated the famous mural The Man at the Crossroads. But there was a great scandal when Rivera decided to incorporate the famous communist leader Vladimir Lenin into his mural, this act was immediately rejected by the Rockefeller family and the destruction of the mural was ordered.
Months after this incident, the couple returned to Mexico and went to live in San Ángel, Mexico.
In 1937 Frida painted one of her famous works, La memoria, el corazón. She wanted to show her great pain to the world, because she had been cheated on, her husband Diego Rivera romantically betrayed her with her younger sister Christina. In response to this family betrayal, Kahlo cut off most of her trademark long, dark hair.
1937 was a year full of great events for Frida. Although she and Diego were separated, they decided to help Soviet leader Leon Trotsky and his wife Natalia, who had been exiled. The Trotskys came to live with them in the Casa Azul, Frida's childhood home.
Kahlo and Trotsky had a brief fling during this time.
Frida and Diego decided to divorce in 1939, but a year after fixing the problem, they got back together and later got married. They decided to move to La Casa Azul.
There he decides to create another great work Las dos Fridas. She is represented twice in the painting, one is the Frida that Diego loved, represented in the typical costume of Tehuana Mexico, the other Frida is dressed in a European costume and is the woman that Diego betrayed. Shortly after, he paints the Self-Portrait as a Tehuana.
Later, in 1943, Frida was appointed professor of painting at the School of Fine Arts of the Ministry of Education, La Esmeralda. Due to her health problems, her body began to deteriorate more and more, leading her to turn to alcohol and drugs to seek relief. In the same way, it continued to be productive. He was able to paint several self-portraits where he was characterized by his hairstyle, clothing, iconography, and his famous look. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, she had to undergo several surgeries, often with very long hospital stays.
In 1940 Frida participates in the international exhibition of surrealism at the Mexican Art Gallery. In that place he was able to exhibit two of his greatest works: The Two Fridas and The Wounded Table. The well-known surrealist Andrew Breton described Frida as a surrealist artist, a qualification that Frida rejected, explaining that she had only limited herself to painting her reality.
In 1941 Kahlo received a commission from the Mexican government, it consisted of five portraits of very important Mexican women, but due to health and emotional problems after losing her father, she was unable to finish the commission. Despite these obstacles, his popularity continued to grow.
Towards the end of his life, he needed help getting around. She appears in Self-Portrait with Dr. Farill (1951) sitting in a wheelchair.
In 1953 Frida receives the invitation for her first individual exhibition in Mexico. At that time she was bedridden, she had been diagnosed with gangrene in her right foot that spread so much that the doctors ended up amputating part of her right leg, despite all this Kahlo did not miss her first exhibition, she decided to arrive by ambulance, and spend the night talking and celebrating with guests from a four-poster bed placed on the gallery especially for her.
Due to a great depression Kahlo was hospitalized in a hospital in 1954, some people claim that she was hospitalized for a suicide attempt. Two months later he returned to the hospital because he had bronchial pneumonia.
Regardless of her physical condition, Kahlo didn't let it get in the way of her political activism. His last public appearance was a demonstration against the US-backed overthrow of President Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala on July 2.
He died in La Casa Azul a year later, the official cause documented as a pulmonary embolism.
After Kahlo's death, Rivera had La Casa Azul redesigned as a museum dedicated to her life. The Frida Kahlo Museum opened to the public in 1958, a year after Rivera's death.
In the museum, his personal belongings are displayed throughout the house, as if he still lived there. The facility is the most popular museum in the Coyoacán neighborhood and one of the most visited in Mexico City.
Widely known for her Marxist leanings, Frida has become a countercultural symbol of the 20th century and has created a legacy in art history that continues to inspire the imagination and the mind.
After Kahlo's death, the feminist movement of the 1970s generated a renewed interest in her life and work, as she was considered by many to be an icon of female creativity.
Kahlo's life became the subject of a 2002 film titled Frida, starring Salma Hayek as the artist and Alfred Molina as Rivera. Directed by Julie Taymor, the film was nominated for six Academy Awards and won for Best Makeup and Original Score.