Updated: Jul 23
“I never thought of painting until 1926, when I was in bed on account of an automobile accident. I was bored as hell in bed... so I decided to do something.”
Born in Coyoacan, Mexico in 1907, Frida never played by the rules. The feminist icon was a clever girl at school with a list of curricular attainments, all through the support of her dad, the man she grew up admiring. Guillermo Kahlo pushed Frida to be the kind of woman who dares to dream. With that little confidence she acquired, Frida knew she would not be shunned, even by her own dad, for being both a woman and a complex human being.
Nicknamed ‘Friducha’ by her artist husband, she followed Diego around, travelling occasionally for work to the United States. Frida developed a strong sense of "Mexicanidad," a term used to describe an affinity and admiration for indigenous Mexican culture. Together with Diego, they were known to collect handicrafts from all over the country and keep it at La Casa Azul to these days. Not just that, Frida was almost always seen in bright gold clothes to celebrate the place she came from. The Mexican painter died in 1954, but her legacy remains henceforth.
La Casa Azul (literally translated as The Blue House) contains some of her works: Long Live Life (1954), Frida and the Caesarian Operation (1931), and Portrait of My Father Wilhelm Kahlo (1952). The house, which had since been known as The Frida Kahlo Museum, was a family house built on the land that Frida’s dad bought before he mortgaged it to support her medical expenses.
Many of her artworks that we can still see today are manifestations of her personal struggles. Henry Ford Hospital was made to address her miscarriage, which at that time, considered to be a taboo discussion.
Frida was never afraid of tackling social issues, sexual identity, political activism & non-conformity — she stayed politically active even after part of her leg was amputated due to Gangrene disease.
Image: Live Long Life, 1954 by Frida Kahlo
Marxism will give health to the sick, 1954 by Frida Kahlo
Henry Ford Hospital, 1932 by Frida Kahlo
“I am my own muse. I am the subject I know best. The subject I want to better.”
Frida has carried a poignant legacy in the name of female artist, not just in Mexico but also worldwide.
We spoke to a number of women in arts on the influence of the artist in their practices. Read here to find out more!