Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Frida Kahlo

Yesterday I mentioned Diego Rivera’s wife, Frida Kahlo. For a long time she was better known as Rivera’s wife than as an artist in her own right. After her death, though, she became very well known around the world. Several movies have been made about her and many books have been written. Today, you’ll learn about Frida Kahlo, the artist.

Kahlo was born in Mexico in 1907. Her life was a painful one. Even as a child she saw suffering and fighting all around her. Her parents argued a lot and were not happy together. Furthermore, the Mexican Revolution for independence from Spain began in 1910. Fighting continued for 10 years. The revolutionaries (the people fighting for Mexico) sometimes hopped the fence around Kahlo’s house and stayed for a meal and a safe night’s sleep.

It was a painful experience that led Kahlo to paint. She was studying medicine until she was in a terrible bus accident. She broke nearly every bone in her body and had stay in bed for a long time. Kahlo’s mother set up a special easel and Kahlo learned to paint. It was one of the only activities she could do from her bed. During this time she painted a lot of self-portraits. She painted more than 50 self-portraits over the course of her life. Look at this self-portrait from 1930 and this self-portrait from 1937

Kahlo was inspired by Mexican Indians, as Diego Rivera was, and she used bold colors. She painted realistic scenes but she was influenced by surrealism. For an example, look at Four Inhabitants of Mexico. Many of her paintings are quite disturbing. Because her life was painful, pain showed up in her art.

In 1929, as you know, Kahlo married Diego Rivera. Their relationship began as a friendship. Kahlo liked Rivera’s art and asked him to help her with hers. About a year later they were married.

Kahlo continued to paint until she became too sick. She created nearly 150 paintings. Frida Kahlo died in 1954.

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