It’s really hard to confuse the distinctive paintings of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo with other artists. Many of them are autobiographical because as she said herself said, “I draw myself because I spend a lot of time alone and I am the topic I know better than anything else.” However, it’s not only the paintings of Frida that attract a lot of attention but also her extremely interesting life that was full of pain, love, terrible desperation, and very weak hope.
The 5 Fun Facts team has learned a lot about Frida Kahlo’s path as an artist and as a person. She was an extremely strong woman and we want you to know more about her.
Frida Kahlo’s life was full of mystery since the day she was born. She was born in 1907, even though the artist (when she was already adult) changed her year of birth to 1910. Frida wanted to have a connection to the Mexican Revolution that started in 1910 and lasted up until 1920.
The girl never had good health. At the age of 6, she was diagnosed with poliomyelitis. As a result, Frida walked with a limp for her entire life, and her legs were disproportionate (the right one was a couple of inches thinner than the other one). She tried to hide this defect by wearing long skirts but she was still unable to avoid mockery from her peers.
Maybe it was the health problems that made her become a doctor and enter the preparation school called La Prepatoria that she attended along with 35 girls and 1,965 boys.
At the age of 18, the future artist experienced her first real turn of events: she got into a terrible accident. According to doctors, she wouldn’t survive after all the injuries she had acquired.
Frida spent several weeks without consciousness and when she woke up, she immediately asked her father to buy equipment for drawing and he did. He was the person who designed a special stand for her so she could draw lying down and also put a huge mirror right above her. The first painting she drew after the accident was The Bus. She drew it with a pencil. She said many times that drawing gave her life power and it was something (along with her relatives) that allowed her to recover.
“There were 2 accidents in my life: one when a bus hit a tram, and the second one was Diego.” Frida met Diego Rivera several years after the accident. Frida had just started drawing and she decided to show her work to a respectable and experienced artist. He thought her work was very good. Something clicked between them. The couple got married in 1929. She was 22 and he was 43 years old. He was not very handsome, quite plump, but extremely charming. The extravagant couple had the nickname, “The Elephant and the Dove”.
Diego was never a good husband. 2 of his previous marriages ended because he cheated a lot. His third marriage was not a happy exception. Frida was aware of her husband’s numerous love affairs but she didn’t say anything to him. Maybe because she wanted to get back at her husband, she had an affair with a revolutionary named Leon Trotsky who found shelter in their house. According to some information, she had an affair with the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky and the Mexican singer Chavela Vargas as well.
Frida became pregnant several times but all of her pregnancies ended with miscarriages because of that same unfortunate accident. She expressed all of her emotions related to this on her canvases. Her brightest work reflecting this incredibly painful topic was Henry Ford Hospital.
After 10 years of marriage, she found out her husband was cheating on her with her own sister Christina so she decided to divorce him. This gave her the impulse to draw A Few Small Nips. This was when she cut her beautiful long hair and started wearing pantsuits.
After her painful divorce with her husband, Frida Kahlo started drawing herself surrounded by animals. She loved animals and had dogs, monkeys, parrots, and pigeons.
In 1940, the artist had very serious health problems and was admitted to a hospital. Diego came to her right away and proposed to her again. And she accepted.
With every year passing, Frida’s condition only got worse. She had several serious surgeries but her condition didn’t improve. In 1953, her leg had to be amputated because of gangrene. The same year, she had a personal exhibition in Mexico which she attended on her bed.
She felt that she would die soon, so she wrote in her diary, “I hope the exit is joyful. And I hope never to return.” Frida Kahlo’s last work was very inspiring and bright. It’s called Viva La Vida. The artist died in 1954 due to pneumonia. In 1955, the house where Frida lived was turned into a museum that can be visited by her fans even today.
The Mexican artist completed more than 150 paintings. She valued her self-portraits a lot because many of them described her difficult life that was full of struggle. For example, her iconic The Broken Column actually inspired Jean-Paul Gaultier to create the costume for Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element.
Movies have been made about her, including the wonderful film, Frida with Salma Hayek as the leading role. Books about her have been written and music has even been composed. The diverse personality of this artist leaves nobody indifferent even today.
Have you learned anything new about Frida Kahlo? Maybe you know other interesting facts about her biography?