Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)
Extremely talented and outstanding avant-garde artist of Central America, the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo became well-known for painting the self-portraits, illustrating the pain that bothered her the whole time. The works of Frida Kahlo belong to Surrealism as they contain strange and thought-provoking themes. Frida Kahlo’s works reflected the state of her health. A lot of her paintings possessed her unique and signature style which appeared due to her Mexican and German ancestry. Every picture is the mirror of the one particular period of her life, and altogether her paintings create her autobiography.
Frida Kahlo was born in 1907, in Coyoacan, Mexico City. Being a child, Frida liked playing football and boxing. At school, she was a part of the mob of hooligans and intellectuals. She considered the girlish companies banal and preferred to be in a company of boys and dated those who were the most popular and intelligent.
The life of Frida Kahlo was full of tragic events – as a child, she had polio, and at the age of 18, she got into a serious accident. As a result, she had two hips broken and serious problems with the spinal cord. However, even these horrible circumstances did not break the strong Frida’s character. The restoration took 9 months. Lying in bed, Frida asked her father to give her paints and started to draw her self-portraits.
At the age of 22, she entered the most prestigious university in Mexico, where she met her future husband, Diego Rivera. To please her husband, she changed jeans and leather jackets to lush skirts. This image was completely devoid of any authenticity, as Frida combined clothes and accessories of different social groups and eras, and could wear an Indian skirt with a Creole blouse as well as earrings of Picasso’s work. In her diary, Frida noted that the costume is also a self-portrait. Her dresses became characters of almost every picture. The pictures were a reflection of her internal storm, and the costumes became her armor. A year after the divorce, she created the portrait where her hair was cut, and she wore a men’s costume. Under the influence of her husband, her paintings changed a lot. The very first portraits of Frida were painted by imitating Renaissance artists, however, thanks to Diego her new artworks contained the national traditions of Mexico.
While being pregnant in 1930, Kahlo due to the accident in 1925 made an abortion. Unfortunately, she couldn’t have a child two years later. This bitter period of her live Kahlo depicted on the self-portraits using vivid and vibrant colors. Through her works, Kahlo conveyed to people the grief of her life. Her paintings inspired and impressed artists like Pablo Picasso and other Surrealist artists. In 1937, Frida created one more self-portrait as a gift for Leon Trotsky on his birthday. She dedicates the portrait to Leon: “To Leon Trotsky, with all my love, I dedicate this painting on 7th November 1937. Frida Kahlo in Saint Angel, Mexico”. In 1938, Frida Kahlo painted the “Self-Portrait with a Monkey.” On the portrait, the one can see the monkey who is gently putting his arm around Frida’s neck and wants to protect her. On this portrait as well as on the others she painted big curtain leaves as the background.
The relationships with Rivera were hectic, and they decided to get divorced. A year later, they married again, and this gave birth to one more Kahlo’s masterpiece “The Two Fridas” where she painted two different Fridas representing herself before and after divorce. In 1940, Frida created “Self Portrait with Cat and Monkey” which was pretty similar to the previous portrait with the monkey she had painted before. This work was symbolic and illustrated Frida’s inner world and feelings. In this portrait, she painted herself with the large green leaves and a yellow leaf on the background as well as a black monkey on the left and black cat on the right.
The author of Surrealism, Andre Breton, was amazed by the works of Kahlo and initiated the artist’s first exposition in Paris in 1939, which was a triumph. However, her works were not always considered a genius. The representatives of the European bourgeois didn’t like Kahlo’s paintings. Kahlo was asked to paint five pictures of a famous Mexican woman in 1941, but she did not complete it. Kahlo’s father, the love of her life, passed away and she couldn’t continue to work. Despite her mental and physical suffering from long-lasting health issues, she became enormously popular and participated in various exhibits in 1941.
Kahlo recorded the people in her life on a canvas. Her powerful pictures have a fair effect on Symbolism, Realism, and Surrealism. In 1944, Frida painted the famous “Portrait of Dona Rosita Morillo,” which was treated as an exception when comparing it with other works. When working on self-portraits, Frida was lost in her feelings and fantasy and might not depict the likeness of the person. In this case, Frida Kahlo painted the portrait of the wise grandma and made this look pretty realistic, so that the beholder wanted to touch it. On the background of the portrait, the one can see the autumn color of leaves showcasing the autumn of her life. It was one of the most detailed artworks of her.
Despite all her sufferings, Frida Kahlo was trying to be a lively and cheerful person. She had a great sense of humor; she constantly laughed and made fun of herself and her friends at the parties. All the time she tried to make the next attempt and battle with physical pain. The painting was her favorite thing to do and brought her a lot of joy. The death of Frida Kahlo came a week after she celebrated her 47th birthday. The cause of Frida Kahlo’s death was pneumonia. At the funeral of Frida Kahlo, which was held at the Palace of Fine Arts, were present her husband and a lot of famous artists, writers and even former Mexican President, Lazaro Cardenas.