Frida Kahlo is not only one of Mexico's most celebrated and unique personalities but also an artist whose life has ignited profound interest worldwide. On this special occasion, we commemorate her birthday on July 6 by honoring her extraordinary talent and unveiling five intriguing, lesser-known facts about her.
Who was Frida Kahlo? Before jumping into specifics, let us answer the basic question and provide a brief introduction to the life of this talented artist.
Frida Kahlo was a Mexican artist born on July 6, 1907, who left an indelible mark with her stunning and introspective paintings. Known for her distinct style, from her iconic unibrow to her Mexican-inspired dresses, she became an influential figure within Mexico and worldwide. Her deeply personal and symbolic paintings offered poignant social commentary, incorporating magical folk elements that resonated with diverse audiences.
Raised in Mexico City, Frida embraced her unique cultural heritage, which greatly influenced her artistic style and vision. Through her art, clothing, and ideologies, she revived Mexican popular art, proudly representing her culture and mestizo roots. Her iconic fashion sense, often seen in her paintings, showcased the Tehuana dress and indigenous-inspired accessories, becoming an extension of her creative expression.
Frida's journey as an artist began unexpectedly after a tragic bus accident at 18, leaving her with lifelong health issues and chronic pain. It was during her arduous recovery that she discovered her artistic talent and turned to painting as a means of self-expression and reflection. Her work delved into themes of identity, gender, mortality, and the intricate connection between the human body and nature, employing vivid colors, symbolism, and surreal elements.
Her tumultuous relationship with fellow artist Diego Rivera further shaped her life and art. Their complex bond was often depicted in her paintings, exploring the depths of their connection. Among her renowned works are "Unos cuantos piquetitos" (1935), which condemns domestic violence and gender inequality; "Las dos Fridas" (1939), a powerful self-portrait symbolizing her dual identity and emotional turmoil; and "La columna rota" (1944), expressing her physical and emotional pain from the many surgeries she endured.
Although Kahlo gained recognition during her lifetime, her international acclaim skyrocketed after her death (on July 13, 1954). Today, she remains an iconic figure in art history, representing strength, resilience, and artistic genius. Frida Kahlo's legacy extends beyond her captivating artwork, as she continues to inspire and captivate audiences with her profound exploration of the human experience.
We are sure that if you have ever watched one of her movies or documentaries, visited a museum in her honor, of heard about her, you were already probably familiar with this information, so we do not need to develop more into Frida’s interesting life. Instead, now that we've covered the basics, let us now delve into five interesting facts about Frida Kahlo, shedding light on lesser-explored aspects of her life and artistry.
Frida Kahlo was a communist
Frida Kahlo embraced communist ideologies, which was evident in her personal relationships and political activism, all of which happened during and after the Mexican Revolution. Alongside her husband, Diego Rivera, she was an active member of the Mexican Communist Party, advocating for socialist principles and supporting various causes.
A significant connection in her life was Leon Trotsky, the communist Russian revolutionary who fled Russia and found asylum in Mexico, more specifically, in La Casa Azul, Kahlo and Rivera’s home. Kahlo even painted a portrait titled "Frida and Trotsky," showcasing their relationship and political influence on her life. Kahlo's art also served as a medium to express her communist beliefs. Her paintings depicted Marxist themes and symbols, shedding light on social injustices and the struggles faced by the working class.
Even in death, Frida remained dedicated to communism. Her funeral procession included a communist flag adorning her casket, symbolizing her unwavering commitment to the cause, and cementing her legacy as a revolutionary artist.
There is controversy surrounding Frida’s death
Speaking of her funeral, did you know that Frida Kahlo's death remains a subject of controversy and speculation. According to the official death certificate, she died on July 13, 1954, from a pulmonary embolism. However, there have been alternative theories surrounding her death. Some believed that she may have died by suicide or as a result of an overdose. The controversy is such that Isolda Pinedo in her book, "Frida Íntima," suggests that Frida was found lifeless in the bathroom, a detail that Diego Rivera chose to omit. It's worth noting that no autopsy was performed on Frida's body, despite the apparent presence of bruises. To this day, the exact circumstances surrounding her death remain uncertain and continue to raise questions.
She lied about her age but for a good reason:
Frida's decision to alter her birthdate was deeply rooted in her commitment to Mexican culture. In the spirit of Indigenismo, which advocated for the empowerment of indigenous peoples, Frida shaved off three years from her actual age. Throughout her life, she proudly declared that she was born on July 7, 1910—the year the Mexican Revolution ignited. Of course, this was not an arbitrary choice at all. This was the year that the Mexican revolution started (it would last for ten years). Her choice showed that she wanted to become a voice for the oppressed and thus be part of the revolution in one way or another. She did not do this to appear younger, after all she would often laugh at the fact that people thought it was just to appear younger. She would often be heard laughing saying she did not want to be younger and did it to be part of a movement and to show her commitment to Mexico, Indigenisimo and Mexico’s revolution!
She was a great teacher
In her mid-30s, having relinquished her dream of becoming a doctor but still aspiring to sustain herself through art, Frida became a teacher. At the renowned Escuela Nacional de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado "La Esmeralda," she left an indelible mark by instilling a deep love for Mexico and emphasizing the significance of Mexican culture and folk art in her lessons. By sharing her upbringing and encouraging her students to look beyond expectations, Frida nurtured their inner patriotic voices. She even organized enlightening field trips around town, showcasing the extraordinary beauty in simple and often overlooked objects, including those connected to the Mexican Revolution. As her health deteriorated, Frida conducted classes at La Casa Azul, her birthplace and final resting place in Mexico City, which now stands as a museum in her honor. Her closest students, fondly known as "Los Fridos," developed a deep bond with her and created murals in her honor at their school, influenced by their close friendship with Frida and her husband, Diego Rivera.
The name we know her by is not her full name:
Interestingly, "Frida Kahlo" was not the artist‘s full name. Born Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo Calderón, she chose to shorten her name to Frida Kahlo, embracing her favorites. It is common in Mexico to have longer names than here in the United States but Frida effectively cut hers short just because that name and last name were her favorites! While this fact may not carry the same weight as the previous revelations, it underscores Frida's distinctive spirit and her ability to leave an indelible mark on the world through her chosen name.
Frida Kahlo's artistic legacy transcends time and borders, captivating the world with her powerful self-expression, unapologetic identity, and profound connection to Mexican culture. Her unique vision continues to inspire artists and art enthusiasts, ensuring that her impact remains everlasting in the art world and as a cultural icon of Mexico.
Frida Kahlo's birthday serves as a momentous occasion to commemorate her remarkable life and indomitable spirit. As a Mexican-owned small business passionate about promoting Mexican culture and offering artisanal crafts, we are proud to pay homage to Frida and her enduring legacy. Join us in celebrating this extraordinary artist, exploring her captivating artistry, and delving into lesser-known facts that deepen our appreciation for her unique journey. Together, let's honor Frida Kahlo on her special day and continue to be inspired by her remarkable contributions to art and Mexican culture.
So, did you know these lesser-known facts about Frida? What are other cool facts that you know about her? Let us know in the comments! It’s always great to hear and learn together when it comes to this Mexican icon!
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