Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo was an artist who was born in 6th July, 1907. Later when she grew up, she changed her birth year to 1910, which was the year that the Mexican Revolution happened. She was the child of a very multicultural family, it was also the main topic of some of her art works like “My Grandparents, My Parents and I”. In the painting, Frida describes her mother and mother’s parents on the left-up of the canvas, above the Mexican lands, which symbolizes her Mexican mother’s roots. On the other side of the portrait, she images her German father’s side on the top of a sea. The “sea” in the painting means Frida’s European ancestors and describes her father’s culture. The work represents Frida’s mixed roots by its own.
Frida had to deal with lots of pain and illnesses throughout her lifetime. At the age of 6, she was diagnosed with a disease called “Poliomyelitis” or shortly “Polio”. It is basically an infectious illness that paralyzes the person and causes some affects on central nervous system. The “Polio” left permanent damages on Frida and ended up her right leg being thinner than her left leg. Just to cover this up, Frida always wore long skirts that hid her legs. But that didn’t stop the bullies in school.
Later in high school, she went to one of the best schools in Mexico City, “Escuela Nacional Preparatoria”. She was also one of the first female students that accepted to the medical department of national preparatory school in Mexico. The students there were way more different than her old classmates. They were more far-sighted and opened to debates about topics like diplomacy and politics. Her friends were as creative and explorer as her, she was even classmates with one of the most important future officials of Mexico like Alejandro Gómez Arias, Jose Gomez Robleda and Alfonso Villa Rojas. That developed her revolutionist side and created a single-minded, creative woman red.
Her life changed when she got in a bus accident at the age of 18. A metal pole crushed her body and damaged her body parts like her collarbone, rib and legs. But the most painful and damaging injuries were the ones on her spine and pelvis. She became bedridden and stayed in coma for weeks. When she woke up and sobered up, she wanted painting materials from her dad. Her dad, Guillermo Kahlo, provided her the essentials and built up a mechanism that allows Frida to paint without standing up. He also placed a mirror on the top of her bed, so that Frida could see herself and create self-portraits. The very first painting she made after the accident was a picture of the bus.
Relationships and Partners
In order to hear the views of an experienced artist; she reached up to Diego Rivera, who was a well-known painter at that time. He liked her art so much that it created a bond between two of them. That bond turned into a marriage in 1929 when Diego was 43 and Frida was 22. Diego wasn’t necessarily a handsome man, but he was very charming. Because of their appearance with each other, people used to call them “The elephant and the dove”.
Diego had already married and divorced twice before Frida; and both of them were because of Diego’s disloyalty. He cheated on both of his wives, and unfortunately Frida wasn’t an exception. She was aware of this situation, that’s why she had secret affairs with some people like Russian politician Leon Trotsky and Mexican singer Chavela Vargas.
Frida had several miscarriages because of the incidents and paralysis’s she’d been through. She got pregnant for the first time when she was married to Diego; and because of an argument they had, she aborted the baby. When she tried to get pregnant for the second time, she had a miscarriage and the following pregnancies weren’t different from the previous ones. Frida has always wanted a baby boy, but her body was not suitable for giving birth. It led her to depression and a great pain that she didn’t feel before. Frida reflected the darkness she was in to her art and she created the painting “Henry Ford Hospital”.
7 years after this painting, right after she got divorced with Diego, she painted one of her famous self-portraits “The Two Frida’s”. The portrait was representing her two different sides; the Frida on the left was a heartbroken and a hopeless woman. But the other Frida was a strong and loving person who was attached to Diego with her heart and soul.
The painting “Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird” was just the beginning of her self-portraits with animals. She painted herself in 55 portraits with animals around her. She also had pets like dogs, monkeys, parrots and pigeons in real life. Because of the fact that she was never going to have a baby, her pets were like her children.
Her Final Days and Death
Soon after she got divorced, she had serious health problems and had several operations. In the hospital she was staying, Diego swore allegiance to her and they got married again. Frida’s health continued to become worse and worse every day; in 1953, her leg got cut due to gangrene. Right in the same year, she had a solo exhibition and had to attend from her bed. Frida was feeling like her death was close. So, she wrote these words to her diary; “I hope the way out is filled with joy, I hope I never come back…”
She finished her last work 8 days before her death. Even though the painting looks like just watermelons on a table, the meaning behind it is actually deeper than that; the work called “Viva La Vida, Watermelons” was representing Frida’s final days. In 1954, she died at the blue house she was born in. Her house turned into museum a year after she passed out. Some people assume that she died because of overdose while some denote pulmonary embolism as her cause of death.
Frida Kahlo gave us 150 paintings throughout her life, she inspired millions of women like Madonna and rewrote the definition of “femininity” in the world. There have been hundreds of movies made and books written about her life, her iconic Vogue shoot was recreated again and again. Her soul and her name still live in Mexico’s heart as a great female artist, a powerful revolutionary and an inspirational woman idol.