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Frida Kahlo, Mexican Painter


Frida Kahlo, Mexican Painter
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection

Frida Kahlo (1907-1954):

Frida Kahlo was a Mexican artist who developed her own distinctive style inspired by Mexican folk art. Though her art was little appreciated during her lifetime, she has become a feminist icon and has amassed a cult following.

Visitors to Mexico who wish to learn more about Frida Kahlo visit her family home, which is now a museum known as La Casa Azul, as well as some other sites: Frida and Diego Tour of Mexico City.

Frida Kahlo's Early Life:

Born in 1907 in the Coyoacan district of Mexico City, Frida Kahlo suffered from polio at age 6 and her right leg remained thinner than the other throughout her life. As a teen she was in a streetcar accident in which a metal pole traversed her pelvis. Due to this accident she would spend months at a time bedridden, was unable to have children and would undergo a total of 35 operations in her lifetime. As she recovered from the accident in a full body cast she took up painting to pass the time.

Frida and Diego:

Frida met artist Diego Rivera (1886-1957) in 1928, when she was 21 and he was 42. They married a year later. Theirs was a stormy and passionate relationship, with numerous infidelities on both their parts. Most hurtful to Frida was the affair he had with her sister, Cristina. Throughout their relationship his work was more prominent than hers, although he encouraged her and said that her work was authentic and unspoiled. They were both active in the Communist movement. They divorced in 1939 and remarried the following year.

Frida Kahlo's Work:

Frida created some 200 paintings, drawings and sketches related to her experiences in life, physical and emotional pain, and her turbulent marriage. She produced 143 paintings, over a third of which are self-portraits. When asked why she painted so many self-portraits, Frida replied: "Because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best."

During her lifetime there were only three exhibits of Frida's work: one in New York, one in Paris and the final one in Mexico City, shortly before her death.

Most Famous Paintings:

This final painting was sold at Sotheby's auction in May 2006 for over five million dollars.

Frida - The Movie:

In 2002 a movie was made of Frida's life, starring Mexican actress Salma Hayek as Frida and Alfred Molino as her husband, Diego Rivera. Read a review of Frida.

Read more about Frida Kahlo:

If everything you know about Frida Kahlo you learned from Salma Hayek, perhaps you should delve a bit further. Here are some recommended books about Frida:

  • Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo, by Hayden Herrera Compare Prices
  • Frida Kahlo: The Paintings, by Hayden Herrera Compare Prices


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