25 Intimate Facts About Frida Kahlo That Will Give You A Better Of A Perspective Of The Artist And Her Life’s Struggle
Frida Kahlo has gained attention across all corners of the globe for her artistry and work. Perhaps one of the greatest influences and well-known facts about her artistic narrative are the pain and perseverance of her life. Getting to truly know and understand Kahlo’s work is to understand her story.
Here are 25 facts that will help you to better understand Frida Kahlo and the experiences that shaped her greatest pieces of work.
1. Frieda not Frida.
Frida Kahlo was born Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón. The name Frieda comes from the German word for “peace,” Friede. Around 1935, she dropped the e from her name and became known as Frida.
2. She once went to an art show in an ambulance.
In the last years of her life, the painter was sick but she refused to allow this to keep her from celebrating her accomplishments. In 1953, the painter had earned her first solo exhibition in Mexico. Despite being stuck in the hospital and doctor’s’ orders she made her way to her exhibit.
3. A third of her paintings were of herself.
Kahlo painted 55 surreal self-portraits of herself which included symbols of her Mexican culture and allusions to her personal life. She once said of these paintings that “I paint myself because I am so often alone because I am the subject I know best.”
4. She died in the same house that she was born in
Kahlo was born on July 6, 1907, in a blue building called “La Casa Azul.” She was raised in the same house by her mother and father. Years later, after meeting her husband Diego Rivera the couple made the house their own as well. When she was 47 she passed away in the same house.
5. The same home she was born is now a museum you can visit.
Today, Casa Azul is known as The Frida Kahlo Museum. Her husband donated the house in 1958 as well as all of the artwork inside of it so that fans could come and get a glimpse into her life.
6. She had a severe accident that completely derailed her plans for the future.
When she was 18-year-old Kahlo took a bus with her boyfriend Alex Gómez Arias which left her forever injured when it collided with a train. Kahlo’s ex Arias said that he remembered the bus “burst(ing) into a thousand pieces,” and seeing a handrail rip through Kahlo’s back.
He later recalled the experince saying. “Something strange had happened. Frida was totally nude. The collision had unfastened her clothes. Someone in the bus, probably a house painter, had been carrying a packet of powdered gold. This package broke, and the gold fell all over the bleeding body of Frida. When people saw her, they cried, ‘La bailarina, la bailarina!’ With the gold on her red, bloody body, they thought she was a dancer.”
7. Her artistry stemmed from the accident.
Frida’s bus accident broke her spinal column, collarbone, ribs, and pelvis, fractured her right leg in 11 places, and dislocated her shoulder. The number of severe injuries left her in pain for the rest of her life and often bedridden. But during these times, Kahlo would paint.
8. She initially planned to be a doctor.
After contracting polio as a child Kahlo became interested in medicine. Sadly her injuries from the bus accident forced her to abandon any plans she had of studying medicine.
9. She had poor health her whole life which affected her heart
Kahlo underwent 30 surgeries throughout the course of her life. This included the amputation of her foot. The artist touched on concepts related to her body’s limited condition with paintings like “The Broken Column,” which depicted her spine and “Without Hope,” which referenced a period in which a doctor prescribed force-feeding.
10. Kahlo didn’t think she was a surrealist.
Many describe her as a surrealist but she once said “They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.”
11. Kahlo’s troubled marriage inspired her work.
Kahlo met Rivera when she was a student and he was a father of four and making an exit on his marriage. There was a 20-year age difference between the pair but they quickly fell in love. Despite being each other’s greatest supporters, their 10-year marriage was riddled infidelities from both. They divorced in 1939 and remarried a year later.
12. One of her greatest pains was the children she never had.
Today’s doctors suggest that her bus accident had damaged Kahlo’s uterus rendering any possible pregnancies to be carried to full term. Her painting “Henry Ford Hospital” from 1932 was self-portrait that and focused on her miscarriages.
13. She was rumored to have gone to bed with several celebrities.
Kahlo led a life riddled with pain and illness, but when she wasn’t confined to her bed she led a vibrant and full life. She danced and loved to socialize. She had a brief affair with American sculptor Isamu Noguchi and three years later while in Paris she struck up a romance with Josephine Baker.
14. She was fiercely in love with her heritage.
Kahlo traveled the world and lived in New York, San Francisco, and Paris. Still, her life in Mexico City always drew her back home. She dressed in traditional Mexican clothing.
15. She loved animals and collected several pets.
Kahlo’s home, Casa Azul, has a lovely garden where Kahlo kept her own collection of animals including a Xoloitzcuintli, spider monkeys and an Amazon parrot called Bonito.
16. She is considered a key face in the feminist movement.
Kahlo’s art was celebrated and loved by Pablo Picasso and Edward G. Robinson. After her death, the 1970s feminist movement sparked a new interest in her artistry. Eventually, her popularity grew so that she became one of the world’s most famous painters.
17. She had impeccable style.
Frida’s art wasn’t the only impression she left on people. She had a distinctive fashion style that inspired designers like Raffaella Curiel, Maya Hansen, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Dolce & Gabbana. She was also featured in Vogue Paris while she was alive.
18. She broke records with her artwork even after death.
On May 11, 2016, her 1939 painting “Dos desnudos en el bosque (La tierra misma)” sold for over $8 million. It was the highest auction price any Latin American artist ever.
19. She had a thing for monkies.
Kahlo often used monkies in her work. In Mexican mythology, monkeys are symbols of lust.
20. She had an easel that was used to paint in bed.
Kahlo’s mother made her a special easel that allowed her to paint in bed.
21. she was open about her sexuality.
Kahlo’s affair with Josephine Baker happened in the mid-1900s when relationships with women were even more taboo than they are today. And much more restricted.
22. She was a communist.
Kahlo joined the Communist Party of Mexico in 1928,
23. She lied about her age.
Despite being born on July 6th, Kahlo claimed to have been born on July 7th, 1910 the same day the Mexican revolution started.
24. She left behind quite a bit.
When she died at the age of 47 on July 13, 1954, she left paintings, love letters to friends and journal entries.
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