A whole lot of people who lived and walked the earth at the time Frida Kahlo did the same have long been forgotten and are rarely remembered even in history, but for her unparalleled artistry and awe-inspiring artworks, paintings and costume, Frida very much still lives amidst us as her legacies are still very much sought after and well preserved in the modern time.
Frida Kahlo breathed her last over half a century ago, however, in this write-up, we are going to walk you through the times and events of her life, her paintings, artworks, and unique costumes without leaving out who she married and the dramas therein.
Frida Kahlo’s Biography
Frida Kahlo was born on 6th July 1907 and named Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón in Coyocoan, Mexico City, Mexico to her father; a professional photographer who was of Hungarian and German descent and his wife Matilde who is half American and half Spanish. Frida had three sisters; two elder ones and one younger one.
Growing up, at the young age of 6, she had polio which caused her to be bedridden for 9 months from which the growth of her right leg and foot were severely impaired; they were thinner and caused her to limp while walking. Life, however, went on for little Khalo as normal as it could be.
She schooled at National Preparatory School in Mexico city (beginning in 1922) where she became famous for her outspokenness and bravery. With such qualities innate in her, Frida Khalo soon joined a student political movement where she met and fell in love with the group’s leader Alejandro Gomez Arias. On one occasion (in 1925) when she was traveling with him, their bus was involved in a fatal accident which left Frida critically injured. She had to undergo a slow and painful recovery and it was at this time she began teaching herself how to paint.
As she recovered, she became more and more active and soon joined the Mexican Communist Party (PCM). It was at this party that she would meet her future tumultuous husband Diego Rivera (for the second time) who she showed her paintings and earned his encouragement for her good works.
Frida Kahlo had initially met Diego Rivera at the National Preparatory School in Mexico city where he was working on a mural called “The Creation”. She often watched it and not only fell in love with the work but with the artist himself; reports had it that she once told her friend that she would one day marry Diego Rivera.
They met again in 1928 during which Frida Kahlo asked the more experienced artist – Diego to evaluate her works. It happened in this meeting that they both took a liking to each other and soon kicked off a romantic relationship. The next year, they were already husband and wife despite her mother’s objection. Due to her husband’s profession, they moved to San Francisco (1930), New York City (1931), and Detroit (in 1933).
After Diego’s work in America, they returned to Mexico and lived in San Angel, Mexico. At this time, the love between them began to wane as Frida became wary of Diego’s promiscuity even to the extent of him having a fling with one of her sisters. They separated many times but came back together as often. Even when they officially divorced in 1939, by 1940 they were back together at least in the public eye as husband and wife albeit they began seeing other people separately. Their house then comprised of individual separate living spaces interconnected with a bridge.
Paintings, Artwork, and Costumes
Every true artist is remembered by his or her works when they have been long gone, for Frida Kahlo, not only is she being remembered, but she is as well being celebrated in this generation and probably generations to come.
Frida lived a life that was all about art, many of her works were self-portraits most of which had surreal qualities which an uneasy mind would find extremely difficult to wrap his or her head around. Yet to profound minds who saw her works then and even now, the message the writer was trying to pass across in colors and shades was clear.
Some of her notable paintings include Frieda and Diego Rivera (1931) which were shown at the 6th Annual Exhibition of the San Francisco Society of Women Artists. Next was Henry Ford Hospital (1932) which depicted her second miscarriage, The Suicide of Dorothy Hale (1939) as a gift to Hale’s grieving mother, The Two Fridas (1939) where she portrayed the unloved and loved versions of herself. She told the story of her physical challenges with The Broken Column (1944) which showed her spine as being shattered and the medical procedures she has undergone without success to fix them.
Similarly, like every artist who had a huge following at her time and even now, Frida created a fashion sense that has refused to die out rather it is even priced and celebrated now. After over half a century following her death, her clothing items were discovered locked away in a storage room. She often dressed in Mexico’s matriarchal Tehuantepec embroidered dresses worn by women; she wore long skirts and corset-style tops and blouses to hide her many surgical scars while her boots were often brightly colored and mostly pink. From her self-portraits and pictures, Frida was also known to add flowers to her hair and had beautiful jewels as items of her costume.
Frida Kahlo’s Death
Sadly, death happens in the saddest of circumstances and Frida didn’t live to be very old. She had a bone graft surgery in 1950 which unfortunately got infected and caused her to be bedridden most of the time. As much as she could, she used crouches and a wheelchair to move about whenever her strength permitted, but slowly, she was degenerating in health. In August 1953, her right leg was amputated at the knee, her health worsened and worst still her husband’s myriad love affairs were not helping matters either. In her last days, she began drawing skeletons and angels in her diary as she was bedridden with bronchopneumonia.
Her last drawing was a black angel with the words “I joyfully await the exit — and I hope never to return — Frida.” On 13 July 1954 at 47 years old, after suffering a high fever, her nurse found her dead on her bed. On the 15th of July 1954, her funeral was held at Panteón Civil de Dolores. Her husband designed The Frida Kahlo Museum in her honor and opened it in 1958 a year after he died in 1957.