Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo

Style: Surrealism

Lived: July 6, 1907 - July 13, 1954 (20th century)

Nationality: Mexico


Frida Kahlo was born on July 6, 1907 in Coyoacán (Mexico), a small town outside Mexico City. Kahlo's father was a man from German origin who worked as a photographer and a painter. Her full name was Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón.

Kahlo's youth wasn't exactly troublefree: at the age of 6 she was struck by polio, which caused a malfunction to her right leg. She had to carry this with her for the rest of her life. Frida Kahlo went to highschool at the National Preparatory School, where her rebellious spirit came afloat.

At age 18, a serious bus accident (a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone, broken ribs, a broken pelvis, and 11 fractures in her right leg) caused Frida Kahlo to turn her attention from a medical career to art. Although Frida Kahlo managed a remarkable recovery from the accident's injuries, she suffered throughout her entire life from the remainders of the accident.


Drawing on her personal experiences, her works are often shocking in their stark portrayal of pain and the harsh lives of women. Fifty-five of her 143 paintings are self-portraits that incorporate personal symbolism complete with graphic anatomical references. She was also influenced by indigenous Mexican culture, aspects of which she portrayed in bright colors, with a mixture of realism and symbolism.

Her paintings attracted the attention of the artist Diego Rivera, whom she later married, divorced, and re-married. An active Communist supporter, she allegedly had an affair with Leon Trotsky, who was assassinated at his home in Mexico City by agents of Stalin in 1940. After Trotsky's death, Frida denounced him and became a Stalinist/Anti-Revisionist, calling Mao's China "the new socialist hope". Her home was decorated with lots of Socialist Art, including the faces of Marx, Engels, Stalin, and Mao.

Although Kahlo's work is sometimes classified as surrealist and she did exhibit several times with European surrealists, she disputed the label. Her preoccupation with female themes and the figurative candor with which she expressed them made her something of a feminist cult figure in the last decades of the 20th century.


Because of her hard and emotional life, Kahlo attempted suicide a few times. On July 13, 1954, Frida died at age 47. However, no official autopsy was done and therefore there is no certainty about the cause of her dead. Her last words in her diary read: "I hope the leaving is joyful and I hope never to return".

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