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Mexican icon Frida Kahlo

18 December 2011

One of Mexico’s greatest artists, Frida Kahlo, was born on July 6, 1907, in Coyocoán, Mexico City, Mexico. Her unique personality can be characterized by a deep sense of independence and rebellion against mediocre social and moral habits combined with a very individual sense of humour. Frida Kahlo was known for her jovial spirit. Her father, Wilhelm, was a German photographer who had immigrated to Mexico where he met and married her mother Matilde. She had two older sisters, Matilde and Adriana, and one younger sister, Cristina.

Almost all her life was marked by physical suffering. She contracted the polio at the age of five. In 1925 , when she was a student, occurred a horrible event that changed all her life. She was involved in a bus accident . She suffered several serious injuries as a result, including fractures in her spine and pelvis.

After staying at the Red Cross Hospital in Mexico City for several weeks, Kahlo returned home. There she began painting and finished her first self-portrait the following year. Lots of her works were painted lying in bed. Because of these physical conditions Frida couldn’t have any children, which was a big tragedy for her. She married Diego Rivera (twice), but also had a lot of lovers, men and women, such as Leon Trotsky and André Breton’s wife. She met Diego Rivera in National Preparatory School, which she attended. Rivera was creating a mural called The Creation in the school’s lecture hall. Becoming more politically active, Kahlo joined the Young Communist League and the Mexican Communist Party.

In 1932, Kahlo added more graphic and surrealistic elements to her work. Her painting, Henry Ford Hospital (1932), was telling the story of her second miscarriage. In 1938, Frida Kahlo had an exhibition at a New York City gallery, selling half of the 25 paintings shown there. Kahlo also received two commissions. In 1939, Kahlo went to Paris where she exhibited some of her paintings and developed friendships with such famous artists as Marcel Duchamp and Pablo Picasso. Later that year she divorced Rivera. During this time, one of her most famous works, The Two Fridas (1939) was created. The painting showed two versions of the artist sitting side by side, with both of their hearts exposed. These figures are believed to represent “unloved” and “loved” versions of Frida Kahlo. Frida remarried Diego Rivera in 1940.

Throughout her life Frida Kahlo was seeking a variety of treatments for her chronic physical pain, but all with little success. Despite this she continued to paint and support political causes. In many of her works we can notice that she oftentimes shared her physical challenges with the help of her art. This we can see in her painting Broken Column (1944), for example.

About a week after her birthday, Kahlo died on July 13, 1958. It was reported to be caused by a pulmonary embolism, but there have also been rumors that this was a suicide death.

In 1983, Hayden Herrera wrote a book “A Biography of Frida Kahlo”. In 2002, her life was the subject of a film entitled Frida. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards and won for Best Makeup and Original Score.

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