The first time I read about the Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo was at the university for a semiotic lecture where I analyzed her paintings. Three things drew my attention from her work: the colourfulness, self-portraits, and the topics. Later, I also learned that she was born days after me, which made me add her to my list of strong cancer zodiac-sign women.
Frida was born under the name of Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo Calderón on July 6, 1907, and died on the 13th of July, 1954, in Coayacán, Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico. Her parents were are a mixture of the old and new continents. Her father, Carl Wilhelm Kahlo, was from German- Hungarian descendant, and her mother, Matilde Calderón, from Spanish-American roots. They procreated 4 children, Frida being the third one.
Frida is an icon for many. I love her braveness. She was a very controversial woman, because of her way of thinking and the tumultuous marriage with the muralist Diego Rivera, and other bisexual relations.
Today, as we celebrate her 66 years of death, I would like to share with you 10 things you should know and learn from her.
1- At age 6, she contracted polio which made her bedridden for nine months. The disease made her right leg grow thinner than her left one. This caused her a slight limp that would endure for a lifetime.
2- Frida was close to her dad, who was a professional photographer. She often attended the studio with him where she probably developed a sharp eye for details.
3- In 1922, she enrolled at the renown National Preparatory School in Mexico City. At that moment, they were only thirty-five female students. Frida soon became an outstanding voice because of her views and character.
4- She suffered a bus accident while travelling with other students of the same political and intellectual views. Her body (spine, hip, and pelvis) was seriously injured and needed over 30 medical operations during her lifetime. This caused her great pain, both physically and psychologically.While she was recovering, she self-studied painting and read about the great painters.
5- She had several miscarriages that are reflected in her paintings; for example, in Henry Ford Hospital, where she depicts her painful feeling of a mother losing a child.
6- She was proud of her indigenous roots and Mexican folk art, so she made the Tehuana dress her trademark.
7- In 1938, she had an exhibition in New York City, United States of America, which was a great success. The following year, she travelled to Paris, where she met several Surrealist painters like Marcel Duchamp, Piet Mondrian, and Pablo Picasso. In 1939, the renown Louvre Museo purchased her painting The Frame, making her the first Mexican artist from the 20th century to be included in their collection.
8- In the 1950s, her health condition decreased after she was diagnosed with gangrene. Despite this, she continued to paint and work from bed. She also attended her solo exhibition at the Mexican Gallery open ceremony. She arrived by ambulance and welcomed the guests form a bed they set up for her.
9- Nothing stopped Frida from continuing to live her life. She was also an activist. A year previous to her death, she attended a demonstration against the United States of America which wanted to overthrow President Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala.
10- Frida’s life had become known throughout the book The Biography of Frida Kahlo (1983), by Hayden Herrera and two movies had been released. “Frida Naturaleza viva” (1983), and ” Frida” (2002), played by Salma Hayek. Another fact about Frida is that her face is printed on the 500 Mexican peso bill.
If you travel to Mexico City, check down on your do list a visit to the Blue House (Casa Azul). It is where she lived and now it is her museum.
“Really I do not know whether my paintings are surrealist or not, but I do know that they are the frankest expression of myself”. Frida Kahlo