“I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint.” -Frida Kahlo. Frida Kahlo was born in Coyoacán, Mexico on July 6th, 1907. At the age of 6, Frida contracted poliomyelitis and was bedridden for a total of nine months. As a result of polio, she developed a limp that she would have for the remainder of her life. Frida was constantly ridiculed in school about her limp and often wore long dresses to cover up her legs. On September 17th, 1925, at the tender age of 18, Kahlo boarded a bus that collided with a streetcar. The accident caused her to break and crush several bones. The most damage was done by being impaled by a handrail, leaving her with damage to her spine and uterus. Kahlo’s injuries were so extensive, she wasn’t expected to survive. She was unconscious for several weeks, but when she came to, she asked her father to buy her art supplies. This is when Kahlo began depicting her struggles and challenges in her life that made her famous.
In 1928, Kahlo married fellow Mexican artist Diego Rivera, despite him being known for his promiscuity. During the marriage, cheating was committed on both sides, and it is known that Kahlo had an intimate relationship with someone of the same sex. Kahlo was pregnant several times, but none were successful due to the damage she endured from the bus crash. Eventually, the pair divorced, causing Kahlo to be heartbroken. This added yet another struggle that was well documented in her artwork.
Kahlo used primarily oil paint either on canvas or Masonite (a smooth hardboard). The style she is mostly associated with is Surrealism, which is a style of art that brings experiences of the unconscious mind into the artwork. She drew inspiration from traditional indigenous Mexican art, which is seen in her use of colors and ceremonial objects in her paintings. Most of her artwork is self-portrait along with animals, still life, and family. Kahlo is often associated with feminism, Mexican nationalism, and has become a role model for people with disabilities.
An artist very similar to Frida Kahlo is Vincent van Gogh. Like Kahlo, van Gogh often used his struggles in life to depict in his paintings. While they are similar in that, they had two different painting styles. Kahlo used dreamlike imagery in her paintings, van Gogh preferred to use brushstrokes and colors to get the message to the viewer. Salvador Dali is an artist whose main style is surrealism, like Kahlo, but depicted things such as sexual imagery and sensations of a man. Another comparable artist to Kahlo would be her husband, Diego Rivera. Like Kahlo, most of his paintings and murals were inspired by traditional indigenous Mexican art, Mexican nationalism, and the Mexican revolution. The only thing Rivera’s work was lacking compared to Kahlo is surrealist imagery.
Frida Kahlo died on July 13th, 1954 in Coyoacán, Mexico after falling ill from pneumonia. After her death, a museum was founded in the exact house she lived and died in. It is one of the most popular museums in Mexico City. Little did she know, she left behind a legacy that would inspire generations.