Written by Shukerrah Palmer
July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954
Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter known for her many portraits, self-portra its , and works inspired by the nature and artifacts of Mexico. Frida Kahlo was born to the name; “Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón” on July 6, 1907, in Coyoacán, Mexico City, Mexico. Frida was born into a family of five. Her family consisted of her father Wilhelm, mother Matilde, older sisters Matilde and Adriana, and her younger sister, Cristina.
In 1922, Frida attended the National Preparatory School. At this school, she became known for her “jovial spirit and her love of colorful, traditional clothes and jewelry”. While attending this school, also befriended a group of politically and intellectually like-minded students. With them, she became politically active and even joined the Young Communist League and the Mexican Communist Party.
On September 17, 1925, Frida and Alejandro Gómez Arias, a school friend with whom she was romantically involved, were traveling together on a bus when the vehicle collided with a streetcar. Kahlo was impaled by a steel handrail, which went into her hip and came out the other side. She suffered several serious injuries as a result, including fractures in her spine and pelvis. After this serious injury, she began painting during her recovery and finished her first self-portrait the following year, which she gave to Gómez Arias.
In 1929, Frida married the famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. Diego Rivera encouraged her artwork and during their early years together, Frida and Diego Rivera often traveled together based on where the commissions were. However, over the years, Frida became saddened over Diego Rivera’s many infidelities. He even had an affair with her sister Cristina! In response to this familial betrayal, Frida cut off most of her trademark long dark hair. Frida desperately wanted to have a child, but after experiencing heartbreak again, she miscarried in 1934. Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera divorced in 1939. However, they remarried in 1940.
In 1941, Frida received a commission from the Mexican government for five portraits of important Mexican women but unfortunately was unable to finish the project due to suffering from the loss of her beloved father due to chronic health problems.
In 1953, Kahlo received her first solo exhibition in Mexico. While bedridden at the time, Kahlo did not miss out on the exhibition’s opening. Arriving by ambulance, Kahlo spent the evening talking and celebrating with the event’s attendees from the comfort of a four-poster bed set up in the gallery just for her.
Frida Khalo died in 1954. However, even after her death, the feminist movement of the 1970s led to renewed interest in her life and work. Frida was viewed by many as an icon of female creativity.