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Frida Kahlo

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Frida Kahlo

Revolution and war marked the life of Frida Kahlo. But instead of fleeing the country, as painters have done for centuries in order to work in peace and tranquility away from such affairs, Frida Kahlo embraced it. Instead of saying that she was born on July 6, 1907 she usually put her birth date down as July 7, 1910 so that she would be associated with start of the Mexican Revolution. Her life was filled with physical hardship as well. At the age of six Kahlo came down with polio and one leg would remain thinner than the other for the rest of her life. A bad bus accident left her with a shattered foot, broken spine, among other injuries which left her unable to bear children. But there was a bright side to the accident which troubled her so long afterwards. It was only during her time in the hospital immobilized and recovering that she really began to pursue painting. Her father lent her his own brushes and paint and her mother had a special easel fashioned for her so that Frida could paint while in the hospital bed. Ever since her life was devoted to painting.

Revolution and war marked the life of Frida Kahlo. But instead of fleeing the country, as painters have done for centuries in order to work in peace and tranquility away from such affairs, Frida Kahlo embraced it. Instead of saying that she was born on July 6, 1907 she usually put her birth date down as July 7, 1910 so that she would be associated with start of the Mexican Revolution. Her life was filled with physical hardship as well. At the age of six Kahlo came down with polio and one leg would remain thinner than the other for the rest of her life. A bad bus accident left her with a shattered foot, broken spine, among other injuries which left her unable to bear children. But there was a bright side to the accident which troubled her so long afterwards. It was only during her time in the hospital immobilized and recovering that she really began to pursue painting. Her father lent her his own brushes and paint and her mother had a special easel fashioned for her so that Frida could paint while in the hospital bed. Ever since her life was devoted to painting.

Most of Kahlo’s paintings are self portraits. One of her most famous paintings is Las dos Fridas. In this painting there are two Frida Kahlo’s sitting side by side on a bench. They share the same heart, the veins of which travel from the Frida in traditional Mexican dress on the right hand side of the painting to the Frida in European dress on the other side of the painting. Instead of wrapping back around in full circle the Frida on the left side snips off the end in a small pair of scissors. The surrealist style that Kahlo usually paints in is very apparent here. The two sides of Kahlo, the Mexican ancestry on her mother’s side and the German ancestry on her father’s side, sit side by side holding hands, sharing the same heart.

Frida loved Mexico and her Mexican heritage. This is what is beings portrayed in Las dos Fridas. Intensely proud of her Mexican background, Frida is rejecting her European ancestry, instead choosing to embrace the background of her mother.  Another painting which expresses Frida Kahlo’s proud heritage is Autorretrato con monos. In this painting Frida Kahlo stares out at the painter from a background of large, jungle leaves, flowers and monkeys, a common motif in Mexican mythology. This painting, while it does have some surreal elements, mostly speaks to Frida’s promotion and love of her country and background. There is no rejection of her European ancestry in this painting, only the embracing of her Mexican heritage.

Kahlo was a great surrealist painter, blending her own experiences, pain, and proud heritage into works of art that are still praised today. Though she could have remained well known only for her troubled marriage to Diego Rivera, another well-known Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo made a name for herself in the art world. She only produced 143 paintings in her lifetime, a number that is much lower than other famous painters from the time such as Vincent Van Gogh’s thousand. More than 50 paintings are of herself. This strong woman has risen as one of the most well-known female painters of all time.