If you are reading this blog post, that means that 2021 has started and that 2020 is now behind. This is the January blog post. I hope you are well and ready for the new victories and opportunities that this year will bring. We can do it! So, happy 2021!

I carefully picked the topic for the first blog post in 2021, and I wanted it to be something special. As you could deduce from the title, this is the legendary Frida Kahlo. If you haven’t heard of her, no problem! Settle in comfortably, and let’s get started!

Frida Kahlo was born on July 6, 1907, in Coyocan, a suburb of Mexico. She was the third daughter of Matilda and Wilhelm Kahlo, who were German immigrants. Frida’s mother was kind and intelligent, but Frida described her as calculated, cruel, and fanatically religious. Unlike her mother, she characterized her father (who was also an artist) in her diary as warm, affectionate, and dedicated to her problems.

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In 1913, when Frida was only six years old, she got polio, which left a distortion on her right leg. It became a little crooked. For that reason, children started teasing her at school, so she started wearing long pants and skirts.

At the age of 15, Frida was admitted to the Alliance of Young Communists as the only female member. She specialized in the fields of natural sciences because she wanted to be a doctor. She loved to read, was a passionate fan of books, supported social justice, and was seriously committed to Mexican culture and politics.

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When she first saw the famous artist Diego Rivera, it was at school when she sometimes joked while painting a fresco called “The Creation” in the Simon Bolivar Amphitheater within the school.

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17. 09. 1925 when Frida was 18, she was seriously injured in a collision between a tram and a bus while returning home from school. She spent a month in the Red Cross Hospital, and during the long months of recovery, she started painting. She said, “I feel I have the energy to do something other than learn to become a doctor.” Without any special thinking, I started to paint.”

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Because it was motionless, a wooden canopy was attached to Frieda’s bed, with a mirror covering almost the entire underside. That way, she could see herself and be her own model. It was the very beginning of the self-portraits that marked the work of this legendary woman.

“I paint myself because I am often alone and because I am the subject I know best,” she said about her self-portraits. As an artist, she was self-taught but attended drawing classes with Fernando Fernandez, who did print prints for commercials and whose studio was close to her school.

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Frida Kahlo ran into Diego Rivera again in 1927. He was impressed by her determination and passion, and he was fascinated by her art. He encouraged her to pursue a career as an artist, and he soon became one of the regular visitors to Frida’s home. At some particular time, they even fell in love with each other. In his mural “The Ballad of the Revolution,” he painted Frieda in a red blouse with a star attached to it and a weapon ready for revolution.

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In 1927, Frida joined the young communists, and in 1928 she became a member of the Mexican Communist Party.

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On 21. 08. 1929 Frida and Diego got married. He was 42 years old, while she was only 22. Her parents disapproved of the marriage, and they were against it. As a couple, they were called “an elephant and a dove.” Before she got married, Frida wore men’s clothes. That is how she wanted to express her independence. With Diego, it was completely different. She wore rich, decorated, and colorful dresses. This way of dressing became her everyday style because long skirts covered her shorter right leg.

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In 1930, Diego received an offer to paint a mural in the United States, and during November of that year, Frida and Diego moved to San Francisco. Later the same year, Frida’s pregnancy was terminated due to a car accident in 1925. Also, the pain in her shorter leg became more problematic.

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In 1932, Frida and Diego moved to Detroit, and in July of that year, Frida’s second pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. She recorded that unfortunate event with a painting that she painted – “Henry Ford Hospital.” After that, they moved to New York, where Diego received an offer to paint a mural. In those moments, Frida wanted to return to Mexico. She had had enough of America and Americans.

Diego, on the other hand, was fascinated by the country and wanted to stay in America. Based on these events, Frida’s famous painting called “My dress hangs there” was created, which was later completed in Mexico. Her view of Americans can be seen in the symbolism of social decay and human values shown in the picture.

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Ironically, Diego’s contract in New York was canceled because the mural he painted featured the face of Lenin, the then leader of Russia and the Bolsheviks.

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Unfortunately, in 1934, Frida had her third abortion, and her right leg was operated on, where a pair of toes were removed. That same year, Frida left her home after learning the adultery between her younger sister Kristina and Diego. For several months, Frida lived in her apartment in central Mexico. In 1936, there was a reconciliation between Frida and Diego, and she returned to her family home, soon after which she had another foot operation.

Later that year, the Spanish Civil War ensued, and Frida was one of the participants. In 1937, Mexico granted refuge to a Russian revolutionary, Leon Trotsky. When Leon and his family came to Mexico, they met Frida in her house, where they were accommodated. It was known as the Blue House. After that, a short affair sparked between Frida and Leon, and when their relationship ended, she gave him a picture.

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In 1938, Frida’s first exhibition took place in New York. It was very successful. Frida’s work was done based on personal experience. She could not understand how others could appreciate her work. Still, the famous actor Edward G Robinson ordered 4 of her paintings, each of which cost $ 200. Frida saw an opportunity there. “This way, I will be free. I will be able to travel and do whatever I want. And I won’t have to ask Diego for permission and money, ” she said.

In 1939 Frida and Diego got a divorce. After that, Frida suffered from loneliness for a very long time, and because of that, she occupied herself with work. Frida rejected any financial support from her ex-husband. “I will never accept money from any man until I die,” she said. She cut her long hair short of destroying the feminine beauty and sensuality that Diego admired in her. She also discarded long women’s skirts and began wearing men’s suits.

To express her ideas and feelings, Frida Kahlo developed her personal painting language. You can notice a dead hummingbird on her necklace. The shape of his wings symbolizes her eyebrows. In Mexican culture, the bird is a symbol of happiness. For her, that bird probably represented the hope for a better life after the divorce. But you can also see a black cat on her left shoulder in the picture. The black cat is a symbol of death and bad luck. Does she doubt her recovery?

There is a monkey on her right shoulder, and it could be a gift from Diego Rivera or the devil. Does the monkey tighten the necklace around her neck, thus creating more pain? At the top of the picture, there are butterflies. Perhaps their metamorphosis symbolizes her hope that her life will be transformed.

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In 1940, Frida traveled to San Francisco for health reasons; back pain, and in December of the same year, she remarried Diego. In 1941, they moved into the Blue House after the death of her father, Wilhelm.

Following the international exhibition of surrealism, which was held in Mexico’s capital in 1942, Frida’s reputation as an artist began to grow.

In 1943, Frida accepted an offer to be a professor at an art school in the Mexican capital. But instead of working with plaster models and copying European ideas and styles, she sent her students to the streets to seek inspiration from reality and Mexican everyday life. Unfortunately, her health was deteriorating, and after a few months, she was forced to keep classes in her home.

In 1945, Frida received a national award from the Ministry of Public Education, thanks to her intricate painting “Moses.” The sun, in the picture, symbolizes the “center of all religions.” At the top are the gods. The lower central part of the painting is filled with heroes such as Alexander the Great, Martin Luther, Napoleon, Karl Marx, and Hitler. At the bottom of the picture are people filling the painting with scenes related to evolution. The central part of the picture is the infant Moses, whose face resembles Diego Rivera with the third eye of wisdom.

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Frida’s paintings were displayed in most exhibitions held in Mexico till 1946. However, later that year, she went to New York for surgery to strengthen her spine. After the operation, she completed her self-portrait for her protector, engineer Eduardo Safu.

In 1948, Frida rejoined the Mexican Communist Party, but two years later, in 1950, she underwent spinal surgery again, not one but 9, after which she spent nine months in a hospital.

After the surgery in 1950, she started painting again for 3 hours a day using a special easel that stood on her bed, tilted towards her to paint from her bed.

Although she was still intimate with her husband, her closest relationships were only with women.

After being discharged from the hospital in 1951, Frida was in a wheelchair. She was in severe pain and was taking painkillers daily. Until that moment, she was still making her paintings with extreme precision. But the increase in the dose of painkillers began to affect the calmness and accuracy of her hand, which resulted in her brushstrokes being more and more loose, rough, and almost careless.

In 1953, Lola Bravo organized Frida’s first solo exhibition in Mexico, in the capital, in her gallery. Frida was in feeble health at that time, but she insisted on attending the opening night. A bed was set up in the gallery especially for her, and she was brought by ambulance.

But later that year, due to severe pain, Frida’s right leg was amputated below the knee, which left her in severe depression. Despite that, it didn’t stop her from painting. More than in previous years, her work became propagandistic, pointing to an almost religious view of communism.

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Frida’s end was approaching, and in 1954 she contracted pneumonia. During her recovery, she participated in demonstrations against Guatemala’s government’s removal by the CIA in July 1954, despite doctors’ advice. “They amputated my leg six months ago, they gave me centuries of torture, and from that moment, I lost my reasons for living. I always want to kill myself. Diego is the only one who distracts me from that. Because of my vain thinking, he thinks I would miss him.” 

On the night of July 12, Frida Kahlo was in extreme pain and died the next morning. The last words in her diary say, “I hope the departure is joyful. And I hope I never come back.” Her caregiver said that Frida was prescribed a maximum of 7 painkillers. She took 11. The autopsy was not done, and that afternoon her coffin was placed in the lobby of the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico, under guard.

Like many of her public appearances, this last one was disturbing. With her husband’s approval, her friends, politicians appeared at her funeral and covered her coffin with a red flag, which had a hammer, sickle, and star on it. This act provoked public outrage. That afternoon, July 14, more than 600 people paid tribute to the artist.

The body of the famous artist was carried through the city to the crematorium. After the speeches of honor, she was cremated. Her ashes were deposited in a pre-Columbian vase that is now in the Blue House.

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Four years later, following Diego Rivera’s wishes, who died in 1957 at Frida Kahlo’s home in the Blue House, the house belonged to the Mexican nation and was opened as a museum.

Today, Frida Kahlo is one of the most famous women, whose longing for life was directed towards the idea of being honest and being who she is. Her artistic achievements are best described through the words of her husband and artist Diego Rivera – “She is the first woman in the history of art and healing which, with absolute, uncompromising sincerity, even impartial cruelty, speaks of general and exclusive topics, which greatly influence women.”

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She has inspired and continues to inspire many artists.

Some more interesting facts about Frida’s life:

  • She painted over 150 paintings during her life
  • Her painting “The Broken Column” inspired Jean-Paul Gaultier to make a costume for Milla Jovovich for the film “5th Element”
  • Films have been made about her, including the film “Frida” starring Selma Hayek
  • Books and music were made in her honor
  • She met Picasso, from whom she received earrings as a gift

Did you enjoy today’s blog post?

We have reached the end of this blog post. This is a short chronological summary of this legendary artist. From Frida Kahlo’s life, we can learn that she loved art and creation, that she painted with tremendous pain and in the most challenging moments of life. She never gave up. That she was always what she wanted and who she was, and that she didn’t listen to others. She followed her artistic style, and that is what sets her apart from a sea of other artists.

Thanks for reading!

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Enjoy painting!

Photo sources: mexicanartwork.com, danitaart.blogspot.com, vi.sualize.us

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