I thought it a great idea to introduce the work of FRIDA KAHLO, to those of you who are not quite familiar with her. But know her paintings and may know that she and DIEGO RIVERA were a couple, romantically , emotionally, artistically and politically .
It is always a question, that I hear, when I am eavesdropping on a docent tour of Mexican Artists,”why are all of her paintings, or most of them, self portraits”? So, in having written about DIEGO, I thought it only fair to give a written introduction to FRIDA!
“In 1953, when Frida Kahlo had her first solo exhibition in Mexico (the only one held in her native country during her lifetime), a local critic wrote: ‘It is impossible to separate the life and work of this extraordinary person.
Her paintings are her biography.’ This observation serves to explain both why her work is so different from that of her contemporaries, the Mexican Muralists, and why she has since become a feminist icon.
“Kahlo was born in Mexico City in 1907, the third daughter of Guillermo and Matilda Kahlo. Her father was a photographer of Hungarian Jewish descent, who had been born in Germany; her mother was Spanish and Native American. Her life was to be a long series of physical traumas, and the first of these came early. At the age of six she was stricken with polio, which left her with a limp. In childhood, she was nevertheless a fearless tomboy, and this made Frida her father’s favorite. He had advanced ideas about her education, and in 1922 she entered the Preparatory (National Preparatory School), the most prestigious educational institution in Mexico, which had only just begun to admit girls. She was one of only thirty-five girls out of two thousand students.
“It was there that she met her husband-to-be, Diego Rivera , who had recently returned home from France, and who had been commissioned to paint a mural there. Kahlo was attracted to him, and not knowing quite how to
“In 1925, Kahlo suffered the serious accident which was to set the pattern for much of the rest of her life. She was travelling in a bus which collided with a tramcar, and suffered serious injuries to her right leg and pelvis. The accident made it impossible for her to have children, though it was to be many years before she accepted this. It also meant that she faced a life-long battle against pain. In 1926, during her convalescence, she painted her first self-portrait, the beginning of a long series in which she charted the events of her life and her emotional reactions to them.
She met Rivera again in 1928, through her friendship with a photographer and revolutionary. Rivera’s marriage had just disintegrated, and the two found that they had much in common, not least from a political
point of view, since both were now communist militants. They married in August 1929. Kahlo was later to say: ‘I suffered two grave accidents in my life. One in which a streetcar knocked me down… The other accident is Diego.’