Mexican, femenist and indigenous icon Frida

Mexican painter best known for her uncompromising and brilliantly coloured self-portraits, Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón was born July 6, 1907, in Coyoacán, Mexico, to a German father of Hungarian descent and a Mexican mother of Spanish and Native American descent.

Later during her artistic career, Kahlo explored her identity by frequently depicting her ancestry as binary opposites: the colonial European side and the indigenous Mexican side.

Kahlo was given her first two names so that she could be baptized according to Catholic traditions but was always called Frida. She preferred to spell her name “Frieda” until the late 1930s when she dropped the ‘e’ as she did not wish to be associated with Germany during Hitler’s rule.

She spent most of her childhood and adult life at La Casa Azul, her family home in Coyoacán, now publicly accessible as the Frida Kahlo Museum.

Kahlo was especially close to her father, who was a professional photographer, and she frequently assisted him in his studio, where she acquired a sharp eye for detail. 

As a child, she suffered a bout of polio that left her with a slight limp, a chronic ailment she would endure throughout her life and in1925 Kahlo was involved in a bus accident, which so seriously injured her that she had to undergo more than 30 medical operations in her lifetime

Since she spent most of her life dealing with her health, hospitalized and alone, her work reflects such themes as identity, the human body, and death. 

In addition to her work, Kahlo was known for her tumultuous relationship with muralist Diego Rivera, who she married in1929, divorced in 1939 and remarried in 1940.

Frida didn’t always want to be an artist. She was more interested in science, and in 1922 she entered the National Preparatory School in Mexico City with an interest in eventually studying medicine. While there she met Rivera, who was working on a mural for the school’s auditorium.

Soon after marrying Rivera in 1929, Kahlo changed her personal and painting style. She began to wear the traditional Tehuana dress that became her trademark. It consisted of a flowered headdress, a loose blouse, gold jewellery, and a long ruffled skirt. Her painting “Frieda and Diego Rivera” (1931) shows not only her new attire but also her new interest in Mexican folk art.

By the mid-1930s numerous extramarital affairs—notably that of Rivera with Kahlo’s younger sister and those of Kahlo with several men and women—had undermined their marriage, and the two divorced in 1939. 

That same year Kahlo painted some of her most famous works, including “The Two Fridas”. The unusually large canvas (5.69 × 5.68 feet [1.74 × 1.73 metres]) shows twin figures holding hands, each figure representing an opposing side of Kahlo. The figure to the left, dressed in a European-style wedding dress, is the side that Rivera purportedly rejected, and the figure to the right, dressed in Tehuana attire, is the side Rivera loved best. The full heart of the indigenous Kahlo is on display, and from it, an artery leads to a miniature portrait of Rivera that she holds in her left hand. 

Frida extended the history of Mexico into her art, thus building a patrimony of cultural ideals, artistic techniques, and social values and is known for overstepping society’s limits and using her struggle as a strength to keep from being limited by it. 

She is considered a hero because she never conformed to society’s standards when presenting herself. She embraced both her masculine and feminine side and helped break down barriers surrounding gender stereotypes. She was a woman who boxed, told dirty jokes, won tequila challenges and dressed like a man in family portraits.

She set her own standards. She valued and celebrated characteristics that patriarchal society has labelled unfeminine and ugly. And so, she was a feminist. 

She became a symbol of hope, of power, of empowerment, for a variety of sectors of our population who are undergoing adverse conditions.

 Kahlo’s work as an artist remained relatively unknown until the late 1970s when her work was rediscovered by art historians and political activists. By the early 1990s, not only had she become a recognized figure in art history, but she was also regarded as an icon for Chicanos, the feminism movement, and the LGBTQ+ movement.

One of her final self-portraits broke several art market records last year when it sold for $34.9 million, the highest price ever realized for an artwork by a Latin American artist at auction, according to Forbes.

Take a few minutes and watch this incredible video with some original pictures of her and her family: 

“The only reason I go on living is to paint and to love,” she once said. Despite her fragile health, Kahlo produced incredible artwork and continued her involvement in political causes up until her death.

On July 13, 1954, Frida Kahlo died at 47 at her home in Mexico, but suspicious details have some convinced that her death was a covered-up suicide. Cause of death was officially listed as pulmonary embolism, but no autopsy was performed — and some suspect she died from an overdose. As with many famous figures, conspiracy theories around Frida Kahlo’s death quickly accumulated, fascinating the public almost as much as her life.

#Mexicoeschingon #chingon #Mexicanculture #Mexicantradition #Mexicomiamor #Mexicoicons #Frida #FridaKahlo #feministicon #indigenousicon #FridaKahlolife #FridaKahlowork

MB for FatFeedsUKDisclosures

Back to Blog