Who is Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo - your life

Photography: Frida Kahlo (center) with Diego Rivera,
Photo by Carl van Vechten, 1932

The sensational Mexican painter Frida Kahlo de Rivera was born on July 13, 1907 in Coyoacán, a district of Mexico City. Her parents, Matilde and Guillermo Kahlo, gave her the name Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón at birth. Her father Guillermo, who was born in Germany as Wilhelm Kahlo, went to Mexico in 1890 for personal reasons. Guillermo is the Spanish translation for Wilhelm and he takes this name four years later with his naturalization.

She lives most of her life in her family house, the Casa Azul - "Blue House" - which her father built. After moving to different places of residence, she finally returned to live there with her husband Diego Rivera until her death in 1954. Five years after her death, Casa Azul is being converted into the “Frida Kahlo Museum”.

Frida grows up with her three sisters and two half-sisters. As a child, Frida was instructed in typical Mexican household chores by her mother, learning to sew and embroider. She got to know art and photography from her father. In general, Frida on her mother's side grows up in a Christian and very traditional way, whereas on her father's side she is influenced by artistic perspectives.

When she was 6 years old, she became seriously ill with polio and had to go to bed for a long time. As a result of this disease, she keeps a shorter and thinner leg for life. Nevertheless, she recovers from it and is actively involved in sports, she swims and rides a bike.

At the age of 15, Frida began studying at the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria, one of the best Mexican schools.

Photography: Frida Kahlo, 1926
Photographed by Guillermo Kahlo, Frida's father, a year after her serious accident.

Suffering and color

On September 17, 1925, when Frida was 18 years old, her life changed dramatically. In a bus accident, her pelvis is pierced by a steel rod.

The consequences of this are lifelong pain and severe physical limitations. After the accident, Frida will be tied to the bed again for a long time and will be forced into a full-body cast and steel corset. During this rest period, she begins to paint in order to fill the time meaningfully for herself and to process her experiences and the pain that comes with them. A year after the accident, she paints her first self-portrait in a velvet dress, the beginning of her artistic career.

She suffered greatly from the discomfort of the accident all her life. In addition to painting, alcohol and drugs help her deal with the pain. But over time she managed to learn to walk again, although many of the doctors treating her considered this unlikely. She will suffer several miscarriages and will also process these experiences in her painting.

Photography: courtyard, fountain and stairs to the bedroom. Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera lived here from 1929-54

Woman of passion

Frida not only attracts attention with her pictures. As an unconventional woman for her time with several love affairs and her passionate relationship with the world-famous Mexican fresco painter Diego Rivera, Frida is already very noticeable in the South American art scene.

Rivera is the man who is closest to Frida. The two are connected not only by painting, but also by their political interests. They are both active communists and Rivera became famous quite early on for his large political-revolutionary murals. However, they come up against the Mexican Communist Party and are both more or less involuntarily dismissed from it. Rivera in particular is known for his criticism of Soviet communism and especially of Josef Stalin, which was the main reason for his expulsion from the party.

In 1929, Frida and Rivera married for the first time. In 1939, Frida divorced, giving the reason that she could not bear his constant infidelity. A year later, however, they married a second time and stayed together as a married couple until Frida's death.

Although Diego Rivera is the most important person in her life and she blames him for being unfaithful to her, there are always other men at Frida's side. The Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky, the photographer Nickolas Muray and the singer Chavela Vargas from Costa Rica are some of her lovers. At the end of her life she is a strong admirer of Josef Stalin.

Simply dressed, the hairstyle often pinned up in the style of native Mexican women and jewelry worn by the native Mexican people - these images are typical features of Frida Kahlo. The strong and slightly fused eyebrows are also typical of her style and are often emphasized in her own self-portraits.

The painter died on July 13, 1954 of a pulmonary embolism. After her death, Frida Kahlo was honored worldwide as an artist and charming rebel. Several exhibitions, films and plays are staged about her and her life.

Continue reading ..

Information on this article

published by AutorTeam, on January 4th, 2013, updated on April 16th, 2021