Frida Kahlo: Remembering the Mexican artist’s myriad faces

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One of many self-portraits by the artist, painted in 1941 | Source: Wikimedia.org

JULY 6, ON THIS DAY

Frida | Photo taken by Guillermo Kahlo her father, Guillermo Kahlo, in 1932, via Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

The acclaimed Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, best known for her uncompromising and brilliantly coloured self-portraits that dealt with themes such as identity, the human body and death was born on this day, 6 July, 1907. Her birth name was Magdalena Carmen Frida
Kahlo y Calderon.

‘Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird’, 1940 by Frida Kahlo | Source: Brigitte Gastel Lloyd, “Portrait of the Artists”, artroots.com.

Frida had never planned to become an artist but an injury she suffered during a bus accident and the slow recovery after surgery, led her to learn painting. She was a self-taught artist. She started painting in oils, creating deliberately naive self-portraits and still life filled with bright colours. In one of her early paintings, ‘Self-Portrait Wearing a Velvet Dress’ (1926), Kahlo painted a regal waist-length portrait of herself against a dark background with roiling stylized waves. After marrying the acclaimed Mexican painter and muralist Diego Rivera in 1929, she changed her painting style and her paintings started reflecting her new interest in Mexican folk art.

Self-Potrait Wearing a Velvet Dress

Kahlo had her first solo exhibition at the The Julien Levy Gallery in New York in 1938. Later on she travelled to Paris to show her work. The Louvre acquired one of her paintings, ‘The Frame’ (1938), making her the first 20th-century Mexican artist to be included in the museum’s collection.

The Frame

In 1943 she was appointed a professor of painting at La Esmeralda, the Education Ministry’s School of Fine Arts. She painted numerous self-portraits with varying hairstyles, clothing, and iconography, always showing herself with an impassive, steadfast gaze, for which she became famous. She died in La Casa Azul, her childhood home, on 13 July, 1954 owing to pulmonary embolism. After her death, Rivera redesigned La Casa Azul as a museum dedicated to her life. The Frida Kahlo Museum opened to the public in 1958.

La Casa Azul

Frida Kahlo also has a movie to her credit named ‘Frida’ starring Salma Hayek as the artist and Alfred Molina as her husband Diego Rivera.

 

 

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