Episode #5 of the course “Great surrealist painters of all time”
Born in 1907, Frida Kahlo’s life was perfectly timed for the changes occurring in the world of art, especially in her home of Mexico. From mixed European and native Mexican heritage, Frida’s unforgiving painting style changed people’s perspectives on the concepts of beauty and skill.
After surviving polio, Frida was injured as a teenager in a bus accident that left her with shattered bones and constant back problems for the remainder of her life. Although she was enrolled in a medical program in college, she had to spend the next year confined to bed, which gave her reason and time to begin painting. Because she did not study other painters’ styles but merely incorporated her own ideas of beauty using what she saw and felt, her painting is completely unlike her contemporaries.
The Wounded Deer
Nearly one-third of Frida’s completed paintings are self-portraits, because she often spent so much time alone. She said, “I am the subject I know best.” One of her best known paintings, The Two Fridas, is even two self-portraits in one. Frida often painted herself in boldly-colored traditional Mexican dresses, which she wore frequently and proudly. She was not afraid to depict reality without covering its flaws, all while adding a dream-like and mystical quality through her choice of color and combination of natural and unexpected elements.
The Two Fridas
At 22 Frida married the famous Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. Although they remained married for over 20 years, their relationship was hot and cold. They were both active Communists and drew social attention for the political undertones of their art, such as Frida’s Self Portrait 1932, which depicts tensions between industry and historical preservation.
Frida and Diego
Rivera and Kahlo greatly affected each other’s work and competed for their artistic legacies until Frida’s death in 1954. The home Frida shared with Rivera was dedicated as the Museo Frida Kahlo in 1958.
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