Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón was born on July 6, 1907, in Coyocoán, Mexico City, Mexico. Frida would become one of Mexico’s greatest artists and a feminist icon.
Born to a German father Wilheim Kahlo and Mexican mother Matilde Calderón, Frida was the third oldest of their 4 daughters. Her life although filled with great successes would also be speckled with great physical and personal pains. When she was 18 Frida was in a terrible bus accident that left her bed ridden. While recovering from severe injuries to her spine she began painting and by the following year Frida had completed her first canvas,“Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress”.
Through her painting and activism she becomes involved in the artist community and friends Italian photographer Tina Modotti and Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. In 1929, Frida and Diego Rivera marry. Their tumultuous relationship, mainly caused by Diego’s infidelities, would end in divorce ten years later and Frida’s heartbreak would serve as inspiration for one of her most famous paintings– “The Two Fridas” which depicts the broken-hearted Frida and the loved Frida. Frida & Diego would eventually remarry in 1940.
In October of 1938 Frida travels to New York for her first solo exhibition. The following year she boards a ship to France to attend another solo exhibition of her work, this time in Paris titled “Mexique“. While in Paris, Frida becomes the first 20th century Mexican artist to have a painting, “The Frame“, purchased by the Louvre. After spending a few months in France, Frida returns to her beloved Mexico and moves in to her family home, La Casa Azul (The Blue House) in Coyocoán. — which is currently the Frida Kahlo museum. Frida has her first and only solo exhibition of her work in Mexico at the Galería de Arte Contemporáneo de Lola Álvarez Bravo in 1953. The story goes that Frida was too ill to attend the opening and was advised by her doctor not to leave her bed. Frida being Frida, had her 4 poster bed lifted on a pick up truck, while she followed in an ambulance. When they arrived at the gallery four men carried in the bed, with Frida in it, to greet her guests. On July 5, 1954 Frida completes her painting “Viva La Vida“, 8 days later she succumbs to her fragile health and dies at her home. She was 47.
During her lifetime, Frida created some 200 paintings, drawings and sketches related to her experiences in life, physical and emotional pain and her turbulent relationship with Diego. She produced 143 paintings, 55 of which are self-portraits.
So today my lovelies, in honor of the 108th anniversary of her birth I’m sharing with you some of Frida’s phenomenal art and inspiring words.
The Words and Works of Frida Kahlo
“I am my own muse, I am the subject I know best. The subject I want to know better.”
Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress. 1926
“There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the trolley, and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.”
Frida and Diego Rivera. 1931
“I drank because I wanted to drown my sorrows. But now the damned things have learned to swim”
“Traté de ahogar mis penas… pero las condenadas aprendieron a nadar.”
The Frame. 1938
“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”
The Two Fridas. 1939
“Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light. Tragedy is the most ridiculous thing.”
Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird. 1940
“I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration.”
The Dream. 1940
“Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?”
“Pies pa’ que los quiero, si tengo alas pa’ volar”
The Broken Column. 1944
“¿se pueden inventar verbos? quiero decirte uno: yo te cielo, así mis alas se extienden enormes para amarte sin medida… somos de las misma materia, de las mismas ondas…”
The Love Embrace of the Universe, the Earth (Mexico), Myself, Diego and Señor Xólotl. 1949
“I hope the exit is joyful and i hope never to return.”
“Espero que la salida sea alegre y espero no volver nunca más.”
Viva La Vida. 1954
Feliz Cumpleaños Frida, your passion and legacy lives on. Que viva la vida!
Until next time my lovelies,