Enter the inspiring world of Frida Kahlo, whose name is linked with perseverance, self-expression, and cultural heritage. Uncover the mysteries behind her name, her affinity for traditional Mexican costume, her political involvement, her sexual exploration, and the personal language of her self-portraits as we delve into the unseen truths that impacted her life and work.
1. Her real name wasn’t Frida Kahlo.
Born Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón in 1907, she later adopted the name Frida Kahlo. The name “Frida” comes from the German word “friede,” which means “peace.” This decision reflects her father’s Hungarian-German roots as well as a desire for a name linked with peace and tranquility. Only in 1935, she legally changed her name to Frida Kahlo.
2. Frida’s love for traditional Mexican attire.
Frida Kahlo embraced Mexican culture and frequently wore traditional clothes, including the iconic “tehuana” or “traje de gala.” This dress style became a part of her visual identity and contributed to the development of her own style.
3. A daughter of the Mexican Revolution.
Frida Kahlo was born in 1907, yet she saw herself as a real daughter of the Mexican Revolution. She frequently put the commencement of the Mexican Revolution in 1910 as her birth year in official papers, symbolising her great connection to her country’s revolutionary spirit.
4. The tragic accident at 18.
Frida Kahlo was 18 when she was involved in a tragic event that changed her life and art forever. Her spine, clavicle, ribs, pelvis, right leg, and foot were all fractured, as well as her shoulder, which was dislocated. This life-changing tragedy shaped her creative path, as she resorted to painting throughout her rehabilitation and went on to become the well-known artist.
5. Frida and Diego Rivera’s political ideologies.
Frida Kahlo and her husband, Diego Rivera, were outspoken and ardent communists. They even gave the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky a place to live while he was fleeing the rule of Stalin.
Gossips of the time also suggested a romantic relationship between Frida and Trotsky, adding a fascinating layer to her personal life.
6. Frida Kahlo, the political activist.
Frida openly identified as a communist and had a strong enthusiasm for politics. She supported the rights of workers and peasants and actively engaged in the Mexican Revolution, fusing her political views with her creative expression.
Diego Rivera immortalized her political dedication in the 1928 panel Distribution of Arms, which shows her dispensing firearms to militants.
7. Embracing Bisexuality with Confidence.
Frida Kahlo was forthright about her homosexuality and made no apologies for it. She had romantic relationships with both men and women, bucking social expectations and embracing her own truth.
8. The Intimate Language of Self-Portraits.
Out of the 143 paintings created by Frida Kahlo, an impressive 55 are self-portraits. Her fascination with self-portraiture stems from the notions of solitude and pain. Through her art, Kahlo explored her own identity and emotions, using the canvas as a mirror to express her innermost struggles and triumphs.
9. The famous “Self-Portrait with Monkey”.
The picture “Self-Portrait with Monkey,” made in 1940, is one of Frida Kahlo’s most famous works. Frida is seen in this artwork with a monkey sitting on her shoulder. The monkey was a treasured friend that frequently followed Frida throughout her everyday life, bringing a unique and beloved company.
10. “Roots” – The Most Expensive Latin American Artwork.
The painting “Roots” by Frida Kahlo is the most expensive Latin American artwork. It sold for a whopping $5.6 million in 2006. This masterwork illustrates Kahlo’s ability to weave personal experiences with cultural iconography, demonstrating her strong ties to her Mexican ancestry.
11. 1953: when Frida Kalho arrived at one of her performances in an ambulance.
Frida Kahlo arrived in an ambulance for her first solo exhibition in Mexico in 1953. This stunning act launched a string of successful exhibits across the world, confirming Kahlo’s reputation as a recognised artist. Her unexpected presence captivated spectators and set the groundwork for her creative accomplishments.
12. “Viva la Vida” – A Lasting Testament.
Frida Kahlo completed her final piece, “Viva la Vida,” in 1953. She added the phrase shown on the foreground watermelon slice eight days before her death on July 13, 1954. This striking artwork demonstrates Kahlo’s strong spirit and her capacity to find joy in the midst of adversity.
13. Casa Azul – The Iconic Blue House.
Frida Kahlo’s home, known as Casa Azul or the Blue House, still stands today as a museum. Located in the colorful neighborhood of Colonia del Carmen in Coyoacán, Mexico City, it showcases a typical Mexican architectural style.
The house is enclosed by four external walls, forming a courtyard that encapsulates the essence of Kahlo’s life and artistic inspiration.
14. Rediscovering Kahlo’s Legacy.
Frida Kahlo was originally neglected after her death in 1954. Nevertheless, her work began to be reevaluated and recognized in the 1970s. She became a feminism and LGBTQ+ movement icon, representing strength, perseverance, and unabashed self-expression. Kahlo’s work and life continue to inspire and motivate people all around the world.