Who was Frida Kahlo? Why you should know her.

Updated: Apr 1, 2019


2018 Caitlin E. Lawrence


Who was Frida Kahlo? Some know her as a very bold unibrow. Most identify her as a Mexican Painter, face of feminism, or even just a female badass. You might be wondering why a Google search wouldn't suffice? After years of obsessing I am here to tell you, there is reason to dive deeper than your basic Internet lookup.


So what's the fuss Cait? Let's chat.

I could sit here and give you a full Biography, but that would be a really long blog. Instead I shall provide a spark note-ish rendition so we can get to the juicy stuff.


FRIDA

was born July 6, 1907, in the house of her parents popularly known as La Casa Azul (The Blue House). Her parents German photographer Guillermo Kahlo & her mother a Mestiza devout Catholic Matilde Calderon y Gonzalez. Frida was the third of 4 daughters (not including her two half- sisters from her fathers previous marriage) ANYWHO it was a lively house located on the outskirts of Mexico City.


Frida (far right) & Sisters
  • 1910 Frida experienced The Mexican Revolution.

  • 1913 She contracts polio age 6 permanently affecting her right foot and leg.

  • 1922 Attends the National Preparatory School, Mexico City. Frida intended to study medicine. She is one of 34 women in a student body of 2,000.

  • 1925 The Trolly incident. Frida suffers a broken spine & other serious injuries in a traffic collision. Her Uterus and pelvis are pierced by a metal handrail. During her recuperation, she considers becoming a medical illustrator and begins to paint.

First Self Portrait
Courtesy of www.fridakahlo.org
  • 1926 Hospitalized for months of treatment and rehabilitation. With an easel and mirror, devises a means for painting while lying flat in her hospital bed. She completes her first self-portrait painting.


  • 1928 Joined the Mexican Communist Party & is introduced to Muralist Diego Rivera. They wed a year later.





  • 1930-1931Undergoes an abortion because of concerns for the effects of childbirth on her health. Travels to U.S. with Rivera who is commissioned to paint multiple murals. Frida sees the ocean for the first time in San Francisco. Her Painting Frida and Diego Rivera is included in the Sixth Annual Exhibition. She spends the next 3 years here. Returns to Mexico without Diego. She begins a nearly decade long affair with photographer Nickolas Murray.


  • 1932 -1934 Moves to Detroit with Rivera commissioned for work. Frida soon has a miscarriage and is hospitalized in Detroit. Shortly after returns to Mexico to visit her ailing mother who soon passes. Rivera and Frida return to Mexico and move into double San Angel house-studio. Her Third pregnancy is terminated by abortion. Also has an appendectomy and operation on right foot. Frida learns that Rivera is having an affair with her younger sister Cristina. This shatters her.


OK STOP!


What have we learned so far? Frida's life has been eventful, check. She is in chronic emotional and physical pain. Frida's personal experiences, including her tumultuous marriage, numerous operations, her miscarriages, are now being expressed through her paintings. In total of her 143 paintings, 55 are self-portraits which frequently incorporate symbolic portrayals of physical and psychological wounds. Kahlo's work are often characterized by their stark portrayals of pain. Never the less an inner strength, desire, and drive. A drive for genuineness, a smack in the face. How can we relate to this? Our lives are filled with valley and peaks, the highest high, the lowest low. How we choose to navigate our journey is what truly speaks measures.


The Broken Column, 1944 by Frida Kahlo

Somewhere through out time great Artists have been labeled as "Crazy" "Mad" "Out There" I would like to address this. While this is clearly my own opinion, as an artist I politely but vigorously decline this stereotype. I believe that creative souls are people who suffer just like anyone else. Perhaps, we are more forward & brash. Self expression isn't necessarily about explaining to others but rather others receiving a clear visual of honesty, authenticity, and bravery. When was the last time you truly told someone how you feel?


Currently, we are living in a world of highlight reals, social media updates, and false advertising. Stop comparing your life to other people. No one is posting their failures.


Right now you might be wondering, what made this woman so extraordinary? I believe it to be quite clear. Although Frida experienced great sadness and physical disabilities, it never seemed to curb her thirst for life. There is great value in this. Never let your storm keep you from sailing once more. She marched the streets during the revolution. Fight for what you believe, hold tight onto your passions & beliefs. Do what is right, not what is easy. She bravely wore her sexuality as Bisexual. Whoever you are, whoever you love, know you're perfect just as you are.




Kahlo's wardrobe alone demonstrated such complexity and self identity, it displayed her prideful Mexican Heritage, her taste for color. Her unique style was further proof of confidence and her uncompromising art. Be who you are, wear what you please, speak truths, start a riot. I dare you.




Want to learn more about Frida Kahlo? Are you in the NY area?

I highly recommend the new exhibit at The Brooklyn Museum

Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving

February 8–May 12, 2019




You can get up close reaaaal close to Frida' personal artifacts, photographs, Tehuana clothing & more.

Long Live Frida!

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