Biography

Madgalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo Y Calderón De Rivera

Her life

SDP_25_IMG_7126_RszFrida Kahlo, the world’s most famous female painter, was an artist, a political activist, the wife of Diego Rivera, lover of Leon Trotsky, Josephine Baker, and a legend in her own lifetime.

Her short, turbulent, and eccentric life was marked by passion and eccentricity, inner strength and temperament. She left us with a unique art collection; her works a painted diary.

André Breton aptly described her art as “a ribbon around a bomb.” She had the courage to show her life in front of our eyes and to reveal her inner worldin a very realistic yet poetic way.

The mistress of self-portraits, Kahlo had the courage to depict herself and her life openly and honestly to reveal her sufferings.

Kahlo’s life began and ended in the same house: she was born in 1907 in the district of Coyoacan, Mexico City, and died in 1954 in her family home, La Casa Azul, the Blue House.

At the age of six, she was stricken with polio. It affected her right leg. She spent nine months in bed.

She had a special relationship with Germany. Her father, Wilhelm Kahlo, was born in 1871 in Germany and grew up in Baden-Baden before immigrating to Mexico at the age of 18.

She studied in Mexico City at the National Preparatory School. She planned to become a doctor, but an almost fatal accident at the age of 18 changed her life forever.

Following her accident she began painting intensely.

At the age of 22, Kahlo married Diego Rivera 21 year her senior, the creator of monumental murals. He had a reputation of being a womanizer. Together they lived in San Francisco, New York, Detroit and Mexico City. They divorced ten years later and remarried one year after the divorce.

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# 27: Frida Kahlo, Frieda and Diego Rivera, 1931
# 18: Frida Kahlo, Portrait of Isolda Pinedo Kahlo, 1929.
Photo: Tina Modotti (1896 – 1942). licensed replica: ©Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2008.

From 1944 onwards she underwent several spinal surgeries as a result of the bus accident. Two years later, she joined againthe Communist Party of Mexico.

Another seven spinal surgeries in 1950 forced her to endure a nine-month hospital stay. During this time she continued to paint and remained politically active.

On July 13, 1954, Kahlo died in the Blue House as a result of lung embolism. Her last diary entry read: “I hope the exit is joyful and I hope never to return.”

Her paintings

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#115: Frida Kahlo, Self Portrait, 1948
licensed replica: ©Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2008

With her works Kahlo represents the challenges of life, the passion, the love, and the contradictions which touch us even in today’s time.

Pablo Picasso wrote: “Neither Rivera nor Derain, nor do I know how to paint faces such as Frida Kahlo.”

Each painting, whether a self-portrait or still life, captures a moment of her feelings in the most impressive way.

In 1938 Kahlo first exhibited her paintings in a New York gallery, and in 1939 her works were shown in Paris. At the end of 1939 the childless marriage with Rivera ended with a divorce and her most prolific artistic time began. In 1940 her paintings were on display at the International Exhibition of Surrealism in Mexico City.

In 1946, Kahlo was awarded the Mexican National Prize for Painting for her work entitled “Moses.”