FRIDA KAHLO: Heart on her sleeve

Having endured the pain of love, life and society yet masterfully leaving us with a legacy of fine art and vivid self expressions, we celebrate Frida Kahlo for Cinco de Mayo.


Frida Kahlo was born in Coyoacán, Mexico in 1907, although she intentionally publicized her birth as being in 1910 which is also the birth of the Mexican Revolution. Married to world famous Diego Rivera, a well established muralist, she is best known for her masterful self portraits channeled by her internal turmoil and pain accentuated with beautiful Mexican colors and finished with earth inspired nature and her captivating gaze. Frida's work has been embraced and celebrated by a multitude of cultural thought leaders, activists, and feminist groups due to its emphasis on endurance and feminine strength. Her iconic images have been adorned and reproduced on surfaces far and wide around the globe including post cards, calendars, murals and pins. In fashion, Frida Kahlo's work inspires renowned greats such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Stuckup Betty's and many others.

 

Although Frida Kahlo's work has gained tremendous popularity since her death in 1954, she would probably find humor in the fact that her pain is now the world's respected pleasure. Frida had a very difficult life from dealing with her marriage, to dealing with miscarriages and the very real effects of her physical pain caused by her childhood accident. In 1925 as she was traveling on a bus from school, her commute came to a devastating halt when a trolley car pummeled into the coach. Frida suffered tremendous pain including a fractured spine, broken legs and feet, and a punctured pelvis by a metal handrail. Miraculously she lived while several others died. Frida had to endure several operations at the young age of 18, while spending over a month in the hospital. She was released eventually but was fitted with a plaster corset that she would wear throughout the rest of her life. During her hospital stay, she began painting on her corset, using a mirror to focus on her work. Her knowledge of art and painting came from reproducing the likes of many other famous artists, and she possessed the natural ability to add her own artistic twist. The corset she painted in the hospital can now be seen as part of many of Frida Kahlo's art showings.

 

Frida moved to the US in 1930 with her husband Diego, where the couple maintained a comfortable lifestyle with Mr Rivera's professional commissions including the California Stock Exchange and the California School of Fine Art. The couple later moved to Detroit, and eventually New York City where Diego painted murals at Rockefeller Center and Kahlo honed her skills as a master of the arts. Frida disliked America and wanted badly to return to Mexico despite their well-to-do lifestyle in New York. Eventually the couple returned to Mexico after Diego's controversial mural painting at Rockefeller Center.

 

Frida and Diego's marriage was unstable and the couple began to drift which ultimately led to divorce then remarriage. Frida started to take on her own commissioned work, albeit from friends at first, so as to not have to depend on Diego for money and travel. It was at this point that Frida's work became commercial works of art. Her first one-person show occurred in New York at the Julien Levy Gallery where her work was praised by historians, artists, and fashion editors such as Vanity Fair's Clare Boothe Luce. Time magazine published a feature on Frida's show, exposing the young master even more so. Shortly thereafter, Frida Kahlo appeared on the cover of Vogue.

 

Read more about Frida Kahlo here.

Get tickets to see Frida Kahlo. Show ends May 12th - Atlanta.

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