Frida Kahlo was a creative woman that was truly unique and iconic during her life. Years later her work and her life style continue to be admired. Her unique sense of humor lives in her paintings and in the diary she kept throughout her life. Today, her work that included 55 self portraits is remembered for intense and vibrant colors and also the pain and passion in each painting. She is still considered the most famous and celebrated female artist in Mexico.
Kahlo was born on July 6th 1907 in Coyoacan. She was born to a Hungarian-Jewish father and mother that was Spanish and Mexican Indian descent. She was one of four daughters. At age six, she had polio. Because of polio her right leg looked a lot thinner then her left leg.
She had plans to become an artist but after being seriously injured in a bus accident at the age of only 18. She spent many years in bed trying to recover from a shattered pelvis, a fractures to her spine and her ribs and many foot injuries. She had to undergo more than 30 different operations throughout her life time. She started to paint because it was all she could do while in bed. Her main subject was herself. She explained in her later years; I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best. Her art has been characterized as naive art or folk art. Some have described her art as a ribbon around a bomb.
At age 22, she marred Diego Rivera who was 42 at the time and a famous Mexican muralist. Their relationship was rocky because of bi-sexual affairs. However, they survived the infidelities and held a passionate relationship. They divorced for a short time and then remarried. It was difficult for the two since she was in such poor health and could not have any children.
In her life time, Frida made 200 oil paintings, drawings and sketches. They all related to her experiences in life as well as emotion and physical pain she was feeling. They also showed her turbulent relationship with Diego Rivera. It wasn’t until 1953 did Frida have her first and last sole exhibition in Mexico. Critic’s wrote in an article about her “It is impossible to separate the life and work of this extraordinary person. Her paintings are her biography.”
At the time of this exhibition, Frida’s health had become so bad she was asked to not leave her bed for any reason. It was out of the question for her to not be at her own exhibition. She ended up going in an ambulance with her bed inside a truck. Four strong men carried her onto her bed for the waiting guests. Her determination is still admire to this day. While other artist were shy and quiet at the end of their lives, Frida remained confident and positive even with such bad health.
On July 13th in 1954 Frida passed away at the age of 47. Years before she was asked what to do with her body when she finally died. She explained “Burn it” don’t want to be buried. I have spent too much time lying down “Just burn it!” It was true that she spent many years in bed because of her sickness.
Many mourners gathered to witness the cremation of Mexico’s most shocking and greatest female painter. In her last diary entry Frida wrote: I hope the end is joyful – and I hope never to return.
Today Frida Kahlo has been described as One of history’s grand divas… Even after her death Frida Kahlo paintings are offered more money than any other female artist. Because of her great art and her humor and confidence, she will remain an icon in art for years to come.