Who was Frida Khalo?

Who was Frida Kahlo-Bio, education, health, family, paintings, marriage, and suicide

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This is a very common question “Who was frida Khalo”?, I have ever seen .

In short, Frida Kahlo was a Mexican artist and she is still admired as a feminist icon.

Who Was Frida Kahlo?

Khalo was considered one of Mexico’s greatest artists. She got injured in a bus accident. After that incident, Frida Kahlo started painting mostly self-portraits. Kahlo became politically active later. She married Diego Rivera in 1929. Diego Rivera was a fellow communist artist.

Frida kahlo exhibited her paintings in Paris and Mexico before her death in 1954.

Frida Khalo’s Parents, School Life and Early Life

Here I will tell you in details about Frida Khalo’s Family, schooling and early life.

Family

When you want to know that Who was Frida Khalo, definitely you should know about her parents also.

Frida Khalo's parents,Guillermo Khalo and Matilde
Frida Khalo’s Parents

Kahlo was born on 6 July 1907,  in Mexico. Her mother ‘s name was Matilde Calderon y Gonzalez. Matilde (her mother) was half Amerindian and half Spanish. Frida Khalo’s father’s name was Wilhelm (also called Guillermo). He was a German photographer and had immigrated to Mexico, where he met Matilde and married her.

Frida Kahlo has two older sisters and one younger sister.

Frida Khalo and her three sisters in one frame.
Frida Kahlo and her sisters

Early Life

Kahlo contracted polio when she was 6 years old. That caused her to be bedridden for nine months and caused her right leg much thinner than her left leg.

She crippled after recovering from the polio.

She had been wearing long skirts to cover that for the rest of her life. Her father always encouraged her to do lots of sports for her recovery.

She played soccer, went swimming, and  did wrestle also. It was very unusual at that time for a girl. She was very close with her father for her whole life.

School Life

 In 1922, Frida Kahlo attended the renowned National Preparatory School in Mexico. There were only thirty-five female students who enrolled in that school. For her outspokenness and bravery, she became popular. Kahlo joined a group of students who shared similar political and intellectual views, in the same year. She fell in love with the leader Alejandro Gomez Arias.

To become more politically active, Kahlo joined the Young Communist League and the Mexican Communist Party.

Frida Kahlo’s Accident

Frida Khalo’s major accident was behind her success as a Painter. I know that it sounds odd but once you want to know that who was Frida Khalo, you should know also about the accident and her sufferings.

On 17th September in 1925, Kahlo and a school friend (Alejandro Gómez Arias )were traveling on a bus. That time the vehicle collided with a streetcar. As a result of the collision, Kahlo was seriously injured. A steel handrail was impaled her through the hip. Her spine and pelvis were fractured completely. This major accident left her in a great deal of pain, both physically and mentally.

Frida Khalo's school life boyfriend ,Alejandro Gomez Arias.
Alejandro Gómez Arias (Frida’s Boyfriend)

She had to stay in the Red Cross Hospital in Mexico City for several weeks. After that, she returned home and waited for further recovery. She wore a full body cast for three months and started painting that time and also finished her first self-portrait the following year.  She gave that painting to Gómez Arias. Khalo said, “I paint myself because I am often alone and I am the subject I know best”.

There was a Movie also based on her life. I am sharing a clip of the movie for showing the major accident.

Special Easel

Her parents always encouraged her to paint and made a special easel for her. That easel was designed in such a way that she could paint in bed.

Frida Khalo is painting by her special easel when she was bedridden after major accident.
Frida Kahlo with her Special easel

Frida Kahlo’s Personal life and Marriage to Diego Rivera

Who was Frida Khalo? , that was your question, right? Now you can know her in detail by knowing her husband.

How she first met her husband?

She first met the famous Mexican muralist Diego Rivera for the first time at school. Rivera at that time was working on a mural.That mural was called The Creation on the school campus. Frida very often watched that mural  and she told a friend she will marry him someday.

Frida Khalo and her husband, Diego Rivera.
Frida Kahlo and her Husband(Diego Rivera)

 In a relationship

Frida Kahlo reconnected with Diego Rivera in 1928 after her recovery from the major accident. She asked him for evaluating her work and he encouraged her.

They soon started the romantic relationship.  Frida Kahlo’s mother did not want her daughter will marry him.

Marriage

In spite of her mother’s objection, Frida and Diego Rivera got married in 1929. As a married couple, Frida had to move a lot for Diego’s work in their early married life. In 1930, they started living in San Francisco, California.

Life after marriage

They shifted to New York City for Rivera’s artwork show at the Museum of Modern Art. Later they moved to Detroit. Then Diego Rivera worked for the Detroit Institute of Arts.

In 1932, Kahlo’s painting became more realistic and surrealistic. She painted  Henry Ford Hospital(1932). In that painting, Frida Kahlo lied on a hospital bed naked and she was surrounded by a few things floating around, which includes a fetus, a flower, a pelvis, a snail, all connected by veins.

This painting was based on her feelings about her miscarriage. It was as personal as her other self-portraits.

In New York City in 1933 ,Kahlo and Rivera’s time was surrounded by controversy.

Rivera was commissioned by Nelson Rockefeller for creating a mural named as  Man at the Crossroads at Rockefeller Center.

Rivera tried to include Vladimir Lenin in the painting. Vladimir Lenin was a communist leader.

Rockefeller stopped his work and that part was painted over. After that incident, Kahlo and Rivera moved back to Mexico. They started living in San Angel, Mexico.

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s marriage was not a usual one. They had been keeping separate homes and studios for all those years.

Diego Rivera’s other affairs

Diego had many relationships with other women. Kahlo’s sister Cristina was one of them who had an affair with Diego.

 Frida Kahlo was completely sad and she cut off her long hair to show her desperation to Diego.

Miscarriage for multiple times

She wanted to have  children but she cannot bear one due to the major bus accident.

She was heartbroken after experiencing a second miscarriage in 1934.

Khalo’s affair with other man

Kahlo and Rivera has been separated for a few times but they always went back together.

 In 1937 they helped Leon Trotsky and his wife Natalia. Leon Trotsky was an exiled communist. He was also a rival of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

Kahlo and Rivera welcomed the couple together and allowed them to stay at her Blue House(Kahlo’s childhood home).

Kahlo  fell in love  with Leon Trotsky when the couple stayed at her house.

Divorce

Kahlo divorced Rivera in 1939 and separated from each other. But they did not stay divorced for a long time.

Remarriage with her husband(Rivera)

They remarried in 1940.

The couple continued to lead largely separate lives and they both had affairs with other people over the years.

Artistic Career

Frida Khalo is painting her self portrait.
Frida Khalo is painting her portrait.

Frida Khalo’s career depicted “who was Frida Khalo”.

Exhibition at New York City

Frida Kahlo never considered herself a surrealist. She befriended one of the primary figures in that artistic and literary movement, Andre Breton, in 1938. That same year, Kahlo had a major exhibition at a New York City gallery with 25 paintings. Half of the 25 paintings were sold there.

Got Commissions

Kahlo got two commissions, including one from popular magazine editor Clare Boothe Luce, as a result of the show.

Exhibition in Paris

In 1939, Kahlo went to live in Paris. There she exhibited some of her paintings. She also developed friendships with such famous artists as Marcel Duchamp and Pablo Picasso.

Unfinished Project

Kahlo received a commission from the Mexican government for five portraits of important Mexican women in 1941. She was unable to finish the project.

She lost her father that year and continued to suffer from chronic health problems. Despite her personal challenges, her paintings continued to grow in popularity and were included in numerous group shows around this time.

First Solo Exhibition

Kahlo received her first solo exhibition in Mexico in 1953. She was bedridden at the time but she did not miss out on the exhibition’s opening. She arrived there by ambulance and 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 Kahlo’s Most Famous Paintings

There were many paintings of Frida Khalo. Some paintings were considered as the most famous painting of her.

  1. ‘Frieda and Diego Rivera’ (1931)
  2. ‘Henry Ford Hospital’ (1932)
  3. ‘The Suicide of Dorothy Hale’ (1939)
  4. ‘The Two Fridas’ (1939)
  5. The Broken Column‘ (1944)

and many more .

Last life and Death(1950-1954)

Dead Frida Khalo with her beloved husband Diego Rivera and other people.
Dead Frida Khalo with her Husband and others.

Who was Frida Khalo is a common question I know, but how she passed away at the age of 47 is also a very common question .right?

In 1950, Kahlo spent mostly in the Hospital ABC in Mexico City. She underwent a new bone graft surgery on her spine.

She was mostly confined to La Casa Azul, using a wheelchair and crutches to be ambulatory after discharged from the hospital.   At last, She dedicated her time to political causes to the extent that her health allowed. In 1948, She had rejoined the Mexican Communist Party and campaigned for peace.

Biggest depression

Her right leg was amputated at the knee due to gangrene in August 1953. She became very depressed and anxious. When Rivera began another affair then she attempted suicide.

In her last time, Kahlo was mostly bedridden with bronchopneumonia. In spite of that, she made a public appearance on 2 July 1954, participating with Rivera in a demonstration against the CIA invasion of Guatemala. She seemed to anticipate her death, as she spoke about it to visitors and drew skeletons and angels in her diary.

Last Drawing

 The last drawing was a black angel. Hayden Herrera interpreted the black angel as the Angel of Death. It was accompanied by the last words she wrote, “I joyfully await the exit – and I hope never to return – Frida”. The demonstration made worst her illness.

Death

On 12th July 1954, Kahlo had a high fever and was in extreme pain. It was approximately 6 a.m. on 13 July 1954, her nurse found her dead in her bed at her beloved Blue House.

Kahlo was only 47 years old then.  

Suicide or not?

The nurse counted Kahlo’s painkillers to monitor her drug use and stated that Kahlo had taken an overdose the night she died.

She had to take a maximum dose of seven pills but she took eleven. It is still left a question behind her death. Some believed that Frida Khalo attempted suicide, but it was not proved clearly.

Funeral Ceremony

On the evening of 13 July, Kahlo’s body was taken to the Palacio de Bellas Artes, where it lay in a state under a Communist flag. It was carried to the Panteón Civil de Dolores, where her friends and family attended an informal funeral ceremony.

  Kahlo was cremated as she wished for. Her husband stated that her death was “the most tragic day of my life”. Rivera died three years later after Kahlo’s death in 1957.

Frida Khalo’s few paintings

When I am telling you Who was Frida Khalo, that will not be fulfilled without showing you some of her famous paintings.

Here are some Paintings Of Frida Khalo.

 If you love to watch videos then see this video for more details about your question “Who was Frida Khalo”


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