The life and works of Frida Kahlo -one of Mexico’s greatest painters- are defined by both pain and perseverance. Getting to know-how about the life of Frida (Frieda) Kahlo; allows us to gain further insight into his masterful paintings which are rich in detailed and personal iconography.
Mexican painter Frida Kahlo has always been an important element of popular culture with her iconic image as well as her art.
Frida Kahlo, who began to paint mostly self-portraits after being seriously injured in a bus accident, said: “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.”
With the ‘10 Amazing Facts About Frida Kahlo‘ content, we will try to help you get to know Frida Kahlo better by providing short, interesting sections from her painful life.
10 Surprising Facts About Frida Kahlo’s Life
1- Frida Kahlo Died in the House She Was Born.
Frida Kahlo was born on July 6, 1907, in a house called “La Casa Azul” (The Blue House) because of its blue exterior.
There she was raised by her mother, Matilde, and was encouraged into the arts by her photographer father, Guillermo. Years later she and her husband, Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, made it their home as well.
And on July 13, 1954, Kahlo died in the same house at the age of 47.
Note: The house is currently used as the Frida Kahlo Museum. It is a historic house museum and art museum dedicated to the life and work of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. It is located in the Colonia del Carmen neighborhood of Coyoacán, Mexico.
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2- A Third of Frida Kahlo’s Paintings Were Self-Portraits.
Kahlo incorporated symbols from Mexican culture and allusions to her personal life in order to create a series of 55 surreal and uniquely revealing self-portraits.
Of these, she famously declared, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.”
What is Tehuana?*: The Tehuana costume is of the Mexican regional costumes, one of the best known and admired throughout the world. It corresponds to the women of the Zapotec ethnic group, who live on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. It is used by both the Tehuanas and the Juchitecas, especially in their civil and religious festivals, and for this reason, it is said to be a living costume. In this way, its validity is undeniable, even though it has undergone numerous modifications over the years.
3- A Tragic Bus Accident Deeply Affected Frida’s Life.
On September 17, 1925, 18-year-old Kahlo had a tragic accident while traveling in a bus with her boyfriend, Alex Gómez Arias. The bus collided with the train and Frida Kahlo was seriously injured.
A steel handrail pierced her hip. In the accident, Kahlo’s spine, collarbone, ribs, and pelvis were fractured, her right leg was broken in 11 places and her shoulder was dislocated.
She had to stay at the Red Cross Hospital in Mexico City for several weeks. Afterward, he returned to her home. But she had to lie in a plaster cast for three months.
These severe injuries kept her in pain and often bedridden for the rest of his life.
She started painting to pass the time and alleviate her pain, and the next year she finished her first self-portrait.
Her family encouraged her to paint, and her mother helped arrange a special easel that would allow her to work from bed. They also gave her brushes and paint boxes.
4- Frida Kahlo Once Dreamed of Being a Doctor.
As a child, Kahlo suffered from polio, which dried out her right leg and sparked interest in the healing power of medicine. It was at this time that she decided to become a doctor in the future.
Unfortunately, injuries from the train accident forced Kahlo to abandon her plans to study medicine.
5- Frida Kahlo’s State of Health Shaped Her Art.
Pain and suffering are a constant topic in Frida’s painting.
During her life, Kahlo underwent 30 surgeries, including the eventual amputation of her foot for a case of gangrene.
She chose to express herself in paintings such as The Broken Column, which centers on her fractured spine, and Without Hope, which dramatically depicts a period when her doctor prescribed force-feeding.
On the back of the Without Hope painting, she wrote, “Not the least hope remains to me . . . Everything moves in time with what the belly dictates . . .”
In this painting, The Broken Column, Frida Kahlo expressed her anguish and suffering in the most straightforward and horrifying way.
Nails are stuck to her face and her whole body. A split in her torso looks like an earthquake fissure. In the background is the earth with dark ravines.
She initially paints herself nude but later covered her lower part up with something the looks like a hospital sheet. A broken column is put in place of her spine. The column appears to be on the verge of collapsing into rubble.
The column penetrating from the waist to the chin appears to be phallic, and this sexual connotation is all the more obvious because of the beauty of Frida’s breasts and torso.
Frida looks pretty and strong in this painting. Although her whole body is supported by the corset, she is conveying a message of spiritual triumph.
She has tears on her face, but she is looking ahead and is challenging both herself and her audience to face her situation.
6- Frida Kahlo did not consider herself a surrealist.
In 1938, Frida Kahlo became friends with Andre Breton, one of the leading figures of the Surrealism movement.
Frida has said that she “I never knew I was a Surrealist until André Breton came to Mexico and told me I.”
She also added, “Really, I do not know whether my paintings are surrealist or not, but I do know that they are the frankest expression of myself.”
“Since my subjects have always been my sensations, my states of mind and the profound reactions that life has been producing in me, I have frequently objectified all this in figures of myself, which were the most sincere and real thing that I could do in order to express what I felt inside and outside of myself.”
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7- Frida Kahlo’s Turbulent Marriage Caused More Pain and Painting.
Frida Kahlo was a student when she met Rivera in 1928, while Rivera was the father of four on his way to his second divorce.
She asked her to evaluate her work, and she encouraged Kahlo. The two soon started a romantic relationship. Despite her mother’s objections and a 20-year age difference, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera were married in 1929.
In her early years as a married couple, Frida had to move around a lot based on Diego’s job. In 1930 they lived in San Francisco and California. They later moved to New York for Rivera’s art exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. They later moved to Detroit while Diego Rivera was working for the Detroit Institute of Arts.
In 1932, Kahlo added more realistic and surrealist components to her painting style. In the painting titled Henry Ford Hospital (1932), Frida Kahlo was lying naked on a hospital bed, surrounded by a few floating things like fetuses, flowers, pelvises, snails connected by veins. This painting was an expression of her feelings about her second miscarriage. It was as personal as his other self-portraits.
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera‘s marriage is not a usual one. All these years they kept separate houses and studios. Diego had so many affairs and one of them was with Kahlo’s sister Cristina.
Frida Kahlo was very upset and she cut off her long hair to show her desperation against betrayal. She has longed for a child, but she couldn’t have a child because of the bus accident. She was heartbroken when she experienced a second miscarriage in 1934.
They divorced in 1939 but remarried a year later. Kahlo and Rivera have been separated a few times but they always went back together.
8- Frida Kahlo Arrived at the Art Exhibition by Ambulance.
In 1953, towards the end of her short life, the painter was very pleased with the opening of his first solo exhibition in Mexico. But her doctors decided she wasn’t well enough to attend the opening and had to stay in the hospital.
Against the advice of the doctors, Kahlo was incredibly involved in the exhibition.
She transported her bed to the exhibition with a truck and herself with an ambulance.
Lying on her bed in the exhibition, Frida (Frieda) Kahlo greeted the guests in this way.
In August of the same year, her right leg, which had gangrene, was amputated below the knee.
9- Frida Kahlo Had Unusual, Exotic, Pets in Her Home.
La Casa Azul (The Blue House) had a lovely garden where Kahlo had her own animal kingdom.
Kahlo owned a pair of spider monkeys named Fulang Chang and Caimito de Guayabal, which can be spotted in Self Portrait with Monkeys.
She also cared for an Amazon parrot named Bonito, who would perform tricks if promised a pat of butter as a reward, and an eagle named Granizo, a fawn and nicknamed Gertrudis Caca Blanca.
10- An Artwork Of Frida Kahlo Has Found Buyers For A Record Price, More Than 8 Million Dollars.
On May 11, 2016, at the first auction to put the Frida work up for sale (Auction house Christie’s), Frida Kahlo’s 1939 work Two Nudes in a Forest ((Dos desnudos en un bosque) Dos desnudos en el bosque (La tierra misma)) broke the world auction record and became the highest price for any work by a Latin American artist sold for more than $8 million.
Frida Kahlo Quotes
- “I am that clumsy human, always loving, loving, loving. And loving. And never leaving.”
- “Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?”
- “At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.”
- “Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light.”
- “Pain, pleasure, and death are no more than a process for existence. The revolutionary struggle in this process is a doorway open to intelligence”
- “I am my own muse, the subject I know best.”
- “There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the trolley, and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.”
- “Only one mountain can know the core of another mountain.”
- “Surrealism is the magical surprise of finding a lion in a wardrobe, where you were ‘sure’ of finding shirts.”
- “I lost three children and a series of other things that would have fulfilled my horrible life. My painting took the place of all of this.”