Featured artist of the week Frida Kahlo

Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo Y Calderon she was a Mexican painter who´s works where inspired by nature and the artifacts of Mexico.

Born: July 6, 1907 Coyoacan, Mexico City, Mexico

Died: July 13, 1954 Coyoacan, Mexico City, Mexico

Spouse: Diego Rivera

Frida was known for painting about her experience of chronic pain. She was described as a surrealist or magical realist with her paintings. Frida did many self portraits which employed a naive folk art style to explore questions of identity. Her paintings had a strong autobiographical element and mixed realism with fantasy. She was also involved in the post- revolutionary movement that sought to define a Mexican identity.

Frida´s works :

  1. Henry Ford Hospital ( 1932 )
  2. My Birth ( 1932 )
  3. Memory, the heart ( 1937 )
  4. What the water gave me ( 1938 )
  5. The two Fridas ( 1939 )
  6. Self portrait with thorn necklace and a humming bird (1940 )
  7. The broken Column ( 1944 )

Frida was born to a German father and a Mestiza mother, most of her life was lives at La Casa Azul, her family home in Coyocan. It is now publicly accessible as the Frida Kahlo Museum. Frida described her life in her child hood home as ¨ very very sad ¨ both of her parents where often sick and their marriage was devoid of any sense of love. Her relationship with her mother Matilde was described as extremely tense. She described her mother as kind,active and intelligent, but also calculating, cruel, and fanatically religious.

Her father Guillermo´s photography business suffered greatly during the Mexican Revolution. The overthrown government had commissioned works from him, and the long civil war restricted the number of private clients her could have. Frida said of her relationship with her father that she accredited to him for making her childhood marvelous, she said that he was an immense example to her of tenderness. And above all in understanding her problems. He taught her about literature, nature, and philosophy. He encouraged her to play sports to regain her strength despite the fact that most physical exercise was seen as unsuitable for girls. Fridas father also taught her photography she had began to help him retouch and develop the photographs.

Although Frida was disabled as a child contracting Polio at the age of 6. Which made her right leg shorter and thinner than her left . This illness forced her to be isolated from her peers for months, and she was bullied.Along with her younger sister she attended the local kindergarten then primary school in Coyocan and then was home schooled for the 5th and 6th grades. But while her younger sister went into convent school Frida was enrolled into a German school due to her fathers wishes. She was soon expelled for disobedience and was sent to a vocational teachers school. Her stay there too was brief but this time it was not Frida´s disobedience , she was sexual abused their by a female teacher. While this illness and trauma made her reclusive it also made her Gullermo´s favorite because of their shared experience of living with a disability . Then in 1922 Frida was accepted into the elite National Preparatory School, where she focused on natural sciences with the goal and dream of becoming a physician. She was in an informal group at school called the Cachuchas. They where a rebellious group against everything conservative and pulled pranks.

She fell in love with her first love Alejandro Gomez Arias he was the leader of the group. Fridas parents both were united by their dislike of Alejandro. Thee two where often seperated from each other due to the political instability and violence of the times, so they exchanged passionate love letters.On September 17th 1925 Frida and Alejandro boarded a bus on their way home from school. This fate full day Frida forgot her unbrella so they got off the first bus retrieved her unbrella and then boarded the second bus. The bus was crowded so they sat in the back of this bus.

The driver attempted to pass a street car but the street car crashed into the side of the bus, dragging it a few feet. Several passengers where killed in the accident. While her boyfriend suffered only minor injuries from the bus crash Frida had been impaled by an iron handrail that went through her pelvis. The handrail was removed by her boyfriend Alejandro and others and was incredibly painful for Frida. She suffered many injuries from the bus cash including a fractured pelvic bone, her abdomen and uterus had been punctured, her spine was broken in three places, her right leg was broken in 11 places,her collar bone was broken, her right foot crushed, and her shoulder was dislocated.She was a promising student headed for medical school. Until the day she was in a terrible bus accident at the age of 18. This accident which caused her lifelong pain and medical problems. During her recovery forced to bed rest while she healed she returned to her childhood interest in art. Which in turn led to her interest in becoming an artist.

Fridas political interests and art led her to join the Mexican Communist Party in 1928. In the Mexican Communist Party she met fellow artist Diego Rivera. Frida asked Diego to judge whether her paintings showed enough talent for her to pursue a career as an artist. Diego said about Frida´s work that they had a fundamental plastic honesty, and an artistic personality of thier own… itwas obvious to Diego that Frida was an authentic artist.

They soon became a couple and got married in 1929. Diego was 20 years Frida´s senior and he had two common law wives by this time. Again Frida´s parents where in disapproval they compared the union to a marriage between a dove and a elephant. Their marriage was reported by the Mexican national press and was subject to constant media attention in the following years to come.

They spent the late 1920´s and early 1930´s traveling in Mexico and the United States together. During their adventures and travels Frida was not just following her husband around and lounging poolside she used this time to develop her artistic style. Her inspiration came mainly from Mexican Folk Culture and her paintings where mostly self portraits with mixed elements from Pre- Columbian and Catholic beliefs. Their marriage suffered two abortions and infidelities by both Diego and Frida.

Her paintings attracted the interests of Surrealist artist Andre Breton who arranged for Frida´s first solo exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York in 1938. The exhibition was a success and was followed by another in Paris in 1939. The French exhibition was less successful but , the Lourvre purchased a painting from Frida. The painting titles The Frame was the first by a Mexican artist to be featured in their collection.

Throughout the 1940´ś Frida continued to participate in exhibitions in Mexico and the United States and worked as an art teacher as well. She taught at Escuela National de Ointura, Escultura y Grabado and was founding member of the Seminario de Cultura Mexicana.

Fridas health was always fragile in the mid to late 1940´s. She had her first solo exhibition in Mexico in 1953 before her death in 1954 at the age of 47. Fridas work as an artist remained relatively unknown until the late 1970´s when her work was rediscovered by art historians and political activists. By the early 1990´s Frida had become not just a recognized figure in art history but was also regarded as an icon for Chicanos, the feminist movement and the LGBTQ movement.

Frida Kahlo´s work has been celebrated internationally as emblematic of Mexican national and indigenous traditions and by feminists for what is seen as its uncompromising depiction of the female experience and form.

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