Today, we dedicate our blog to Frida Kahlo. The Mexican painter that became famous worldwide for her unique art style and for her nonconformist life. Our Spanish school, El Rincón del Tándem, pays tribute to this great artist with this blog ?
We continue writing about inspiring women who have left their mark on the history and culture of Spanish-speaking countries.
This time we “move” to Mexico to talk about one of the best-known artists in the world.
Frida Kahlo (Coyoacán, 1907 – Coyoacán, 1954) was a Mexican painter, famous for her unique art style, who has also become one of the icons of feminism thanks to her free and nonconformist personality.
Frida Kahlo is also known for her passionate character, her great strength and love for life.
In fact, her entire life was marked by serious health problems and difficulties which she faced with courage and determination.
As a child she suffered from polio; a disease that damaged her right leg, making it weaker and thinner than the other. Furthermore, at the age of eighteen, she was terribly injured in a bus accident. Because of the accident, she suffered a multiple fracture to her spine and other parts of her body that caused her chronic pain for all her life.
While recovering from the accident, she began to take an interest in art and dedicate herself to painting. This initial artistic stage is characterized by her self-portraits. As she explained “I portray myself because I spend a lot of time alone and because I am the subject I know best”.
In addition to personal events, Frida Kahlo showed her passion for Mexican indigenous folk art in all her artworks. In fact, she painted herself in traditional clothing and wearing ornaments from pre-Columbian culture. Almost in all her portraits and photos, she appears with the typical braided bun hairstyle, adorned with coloured bows.
Furthermore, she proved to be passionate also about politics. In addition to her sympathy for the Mexican revolutionary nationalist movement, Frida Kahlo became interested in communism, especially thanks to her friendship with Tina Modotti. It was this Italian photographer, wife of the Cuban Communist Julio Antonio Mella, who introduced her to the meetings of the Communist Party of Mexico.
In one of these political meetings, Frida Kahlo met Diego Rivera, a political artist and party member. In 1929 they joined in marriage, starting a stormy romantic relationship that was interrupted by a divorce, then followed by a second marriage.
The house in which they lived together, known as “Casa Azul”, became a meeting place and refuge for political exiles and intellectuals from other countries. Among them, the surrealist poet André Breton, who invited Frida Kahlo to exhibit her works in New York and Paris, and Lev Trotski, with whom she maintained a strong friendship and a loving relationship.
After worsening her health condition and the amputation of a leg, the artist suffered from a severe depression and tried to commit suicide. In the last years of her life, the painter poured her sadness into poetry.
Frida Kahlo died in 1954 and her body was cremated according to the artist’s will.
Her last painting has become very famous since it is a kind of last will through which she celebrates love for life. It is a work that shows pieces of watermelon in very bright colours. In one of these pieces the writing “Viva la vida” appears, together with the artist’s signature.
Frida Kahlo managed to channel her pain and suffering into art. The most shocking events of her life, such as infidelities, miscarriages or hospital stays, are masterfully reflected in her unique style and in a very original art production.
The Mexican artist has left us an artistic heritage of around 150 works, currently exhibited in several museums. Among them, the Museum of Modern Art in Mexico City, the Frida Kahlo Museum (La Casa Azul) and the San Francisco Museum of Art.
Frida Kahlo’s artworks are impregnated with emotions, real life, Mexican iconography and an original symbology.
A free art that the artist herself did not want to frame in any artistic movement.
Finally, if you want to know more about the Frida Kahlo’s history, we recommend the film Frida (2002).
We hope this short overview of Frida Kahlo encourages you to search for more information about her artworks and the Spanish-speaking countries’ culture.
Our Spanish school, El Rincón del Tándem, invites you to improve your Spanish and expand your knowledge about arts and culture.