ARTIST INTRO: FRIDA KAHLO

Birthplace: Coyoacán, Mexico

Favorite mediums: Oil Paint on Canvas

Styles/Periods: Naïve Art, Modern Art, Surrealism, Magical Realism, Symbolism, Naturalism, Primitivism, Social Realism, and Cubism. 

Who Was Frida?

Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, 1940 by Frida Kahlo. Courtesy of fridakahlo.org

Frida was born on July 6, 1907, in Coyoacán, Mexico and died July 13, 1954, in the same city. She was in love with life itself and lived her life to the fullest that she possibly could. At the age of 16, she was involved in a bad trolley accident, leaving her bedridden for a significant portion of her life. Frida’s father would buy her canvases and paints. She had a mirror over her bed and mostly paint self-portraits. 

“I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.” — Frida Kahlo

Painting and art truly gave Frida a reason to live and a way to express herself. Frida mainly painted from her direct experiences, and often in a Naïve art style that posed powerful questions about identity, gender, and postcolonialism in Mexico.

Frida’s works are commonly labeled under periods and styles such as Naïve Art, Modern Art, Surrealism, Magical Realism, Symbolism, Naturalism, Primitivism, Social Realism, and Cubism.

“They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn't. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.” — Frida Kahlo

Frida also painted things that most women wouldn’t dare to even talk about. One of her most famous paintings, Frida and Cesarean Operation, 1932, depicts a miscarriage she had, and the subsequent pain it caused her.

Frida was a modern woman, and some would even say scandalous. She discreetly had many love affairs, both casual and serious, involving mostly men, but occasionally with women too. However, the love of her life was, and always would be, fellow painter Diego Rivera. She married Diego in 1929, and were together until 1939. A year later they decided to remarry in 1940, and remained so, until her eventual death in 1954.

The cause of their marital separation was mainly due to Diego’s constant love affairs. Extramarital affairs were not entirely uncommon among Mexican men at the time, so Frida was simply expected to deal with it, as would any other Mexican woman.

Without a doubt, Diego was definately the love of her life, but their relationship was nowhere near perfect. He caused her tremendous pain with his affairs, and the one that cut the deepest involved her own sister, Christina! It hurt Frida so much because Christina was her favourite sister, the one she “loved the most”.

Ironically, Diego was also very jealous when Frida decided to have her own lovers, even when they were separated. In general, Frida’s relationship and love for Diego was always a focal point of her artwork.

The Two Fridas, 1939 by Frida Kahlo. Courtesy of fridakahlo.org
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera photos. Courtesy of vintag.es

“There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the trolley, and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.” — Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo painting in bed. Courtesy of rebloggy.com

Death And Family

Although Frida was plagued by physical pain, and had many surgeries during the course of her life, she refused to let it stop her from living.

Frida lived in the US for a short time to support her husband and his growing career. In later years, she even returned to the US and traveled to France for her own work. Upon her return, Frida became an art teacher at the Escuela Nacional de Pintura in Mexico.

Frida’s first solo exhibition in Mexico, took place in 1953. At this point, Frida could not physically get out of bed anymore, so they decided to take the entire bed to the exhibition!

Frida in bed at final opening, with Concha Michel, Antonio Pelaez, Dr. Roberto Garza, Carmen Farell, Dr. Atl, 1953. Courtesy of pbs.org

“I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint.” — Frida Kahlo

This would be Frida’s only exhibition in Mexico due to her deteriorated health, and she passed away in July 1954 at the age of 47. Her last known painting is said to have been done just 8 days before her death. By far it has become her most famous, “Viva La Vida,” (Long Live Life) is considered to be her tribute to life due to its vibrancy in both color and subject.

Viva la Vida (Long Live Life) by Frida Kahlo, 1954

Major Museums That Contain Frida’s Works

If you wish to see Frida’s work on display you can find some at these locations:

  • The Museo Dolores Olmedo is an art museum in the capital of Mexico.
  • The Museum of Modern Art is an art museum located in  Manhattan, New York City.
  • The Detroit Institute of Arts, located in Midtown Detroit, Michigan. 
  • The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. 
  • The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is a modern art museum located in San Francisco, California.
  • The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is an art museum located on Wilshire Boulevard, in the Miracle Mile vicinity of Los Angeles.
  • The Harry Ransom Center is an archive, library, and museum at the University of Texas at Austin.
  • The National Museum of Women in the Arts, located in Washington, D.C.

Media

Movie: Frida (2002)

Documentary: The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo (2005)

sdr

” I believe in embracing “Art in All Forms”. Art is all around us, and sometimes you just need to slow down and take a closer look. Art carries many stories and has always been an integral part of human history. It is continuously evolving, changing and adapting to the world around it—Just like human beings, or any other living organism.

I created this blog to build a community to help budding and experienced artists connect, grow and create together. It’s a place where artists can learn and share information, and to keep art meaningful in there lives. Whether it’s going to a museum to observe art, tips on how to improve one’s skills, or simply answer the question, “Where do I even start?”

During my studies, I chose to hone and refine my skills through constant learning, experimentation and practice. I have over 10 years of experience, with a background in painting, sculpture, printmaking, art history and architecture. Recently, I have started to explore photography as well.

I truly believe that we are all born artists and simply forgot…it is never too late to re-start, it is never too late to remember that you are already an artist.”

— Mirsada Simon

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