Frida Kahlo: An Aspiring Talent From Mexico
Frida Kahlo was born on July 6 1907 in the Coyoacan village of Mexico. She was named Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo and is famous for her beautiful self portraits and surrealist masterpieces. She has often been hailed as the finest female artist of the early 20th century by feminists and she spent almost the entirety of her life in Mexico City.
It is said that Frida preferred her birth date to be given as July 7, 1910 so it would coincide with the Mexican Revolution and thus it would appear that her life had begun with the birth of Modern Mexico. She would go on to marry Diego Rivera, who was also an eminent Mexican artist of the era, but this was a volatile marriage that was always at the verge of collapse. Both Frida and Rivera had quick tempers and neither of them ever put much store for tolerance, coupled with multiple extra marital affairs from both parties meant they eventually divorced in 1939. They remarried in 1940 but the relationship was always a strained one, to the point that they slept in separate rooms in the same house.
Artistic Style and Early Influences
Most of Frida Kahlo’s works have been defined as having influences from the “Surrealist” era and contain elements of native Mexican culture as well as the Amerindian cultural traditions. Frida had initially enrolled to study medicine but an unfortunate traffic accident during her teenage left her immobilized on the hospital bed for a long time, and she couldn’t do anything much except recover slowly. When she had recovered enough, Frida took up painting as a hobby.
She was given a special easel which enabled her to paint in bed, this was the time Frida explored her talent for the arts.
Frida Kahlo would eventually take painting as a full term obsession, she was quite gifted too. Most of her works suggest an acute temperament of identifying with pain and general suffering of the body. Frida took inspiration for her earliest paintings from her own helplessness as an injured woman, translating all her psychological and physical suffering on the canvas. She was a also a great admirer of Diego Rivera, an established artist who helped her during her early career as a painter, she would eventually marry him.
Frida used bright colors, primitive style elements, and dramatic symbolism to give her paintings a definite Mexican flair. She also drew influences from religion; many of her paintings depict Jewish and Christian themes.
She is known for frequently incorporating the symbolist monkey, which is frequently used to convey lust. Frida used the symbolic monkey as a symbol of protection and tenderness.
Some of her famous works include “The Two Fridas”, “Without Hope”, “Brick Kilns”, “Self Portrait with Stalin”, “The Little Deer”, “Still Life with Flag”, “Viva la Vida, Watermelons”, “Self Portrait dedicated to Leon Trotsky”, “Henry Ford Hospital”, “Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird”, “Self Portrait with Cropped Hair”, “Fulang-Chang and I”, “A few Small Nips”, “The Suicide of Dorothy Hale”, “Freida and Diego Rivera”, “My Grandparents, My Parents, and I”, “The Bus”, “What the Water Gave Me”, “Self Portrait in a Landscape with the Sun Going Down”, “Viva la Vida and the Dr. Juan Farill” and “Diego on my Mind”, among others.
She did an impressive 143 paintings in her lifetime, and 55 of them were self portraits.
Death and Posthumous Recognition
Frida Kahlo suffered from health problems all her life, which were made worse by a traffic accident during her teenage which left her isolated and friendless for a long time.
She died of pulmonary embolism at the age of 47.
She got a lot of fame in the decades following her death, during her life she had simply been known as Diego’s wife, but post-1970s; there was a surge of popularity in which many of her works were showcased in numerous art exhibitions in the world.
A Mexican filmmaker even made a biographical movie on the life and work of Frida Kahlo. Her first comprehensive art exhibit in Mexico was held on her 100th birthday, the centennial celebrations were held at the Palacio de Bellas Artes and showcased roughly one third of her artistic works.