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Frida Kahlo

Artist - Advanced




F rida Kahlo’s name at birth was Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo Calderon just outside Mexico City in La Casa Azul, which mean “The Blue House” in English. She was born on July 6th 1907 but she later told people she was born in 1910, the same year as the Mexican Revolution. Frida was highly interested in politics and the cultural issues of her time. Her mother was a strict, religious woman of local and Spanish origins. Her father was German and came to Mexico at a young age. Today Frida is known for her unique style of art that dealt with issues of race, class and gender.  

Growing up with three sisters she was surrounded by females from a young age and this may have had an influence on her art. However, she was very close to her father, a man who ran a photography studio and later encouraged her as an artist. At the age of six, Frida contracted polio. She had to be separated from others and her right leg became thinner than the left. She often wore long skirts to hide the damage caused by the disease. After recovering, she studied medicine and had a deep interest in Mexican culture and politics. She is said to have played sports and even joined a gang as a teenager.  

In 1925, around the age of 17, she was involved in a terrible bus accident which killed several people and left Frida seriously injured. She stayed in the hospital for a month unable to move. After that, she spent many more months at home in bed. Her parents bought her paints, canvas and a set up a mirror in her room.  It was from here in bed where she started to paint. She was very sad at this time, but painting helped her recover. Her art is said to reflect a deep sadness which she experienced throughout her life. 

Frida returned to the world of politics and culture a few years later and at the age of 22, she married one of Mexico’s most famous artists, Diego Rivera. Frida became serious about her art after marrying Diego and the two traveled around the United States for several years on tour. The couple had a complicated relationship for over 20 years, they separated, divorced, and then remarried a year later. 

Frida had her first solo show in New York in 1938, which was a big success. The next year she had an exhibition in Paris which was not as successful, but the Louvre did buy her painting, “The Frame”. In 1945 she received a Mexican national prize for her painting, “Moses”. However, Frida’s health began to decline and in 1950 she started using a wheelchair. Her first and only solo show in Mexico was in 1953, a year before her death. She came to the show in an ambulance and laid in a bed during the event. Frida died in the house she was born in at the age of 47. She is remembered for her love of Mexican culture, unique art, and political ideas. 

Source: http://www.pbs.org/weta/fridakahlo/today/index.html

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