Frida Kahlo - 5 interesting facts about the artist

Frida Kahlo is an iconic figure. Who does not know this charismatic Mexican artist with her characteristic knitted eyebrows and slight moustache? Her image is so well known all over the world, if only because the painter focused largely on self-portraits in her work. She created as many as 55 of them because, as she used to say: "I paint myself because I am the subject I know best". They are often marked by great suffering, which accompanied Frida Kahlo most of her life. Poignant portraits dripping with blood, shocking with suggestively depicted entrails, supposedly allowed the artist to cope with physical and mental pain…

Although by many people she was considered a part of the Surrealist movement, Frida Kahlo herself described her works as brutal realism, and her paintings, which often resembled nightmares, in her opinion reflected realistically what she had to deal with every day. Despite the painful life which determined Frida Kahlo's work to the greatest extent, her paintings enchant with colours, poignant oneiric visions and hot temperature of Mexico. Today, the artist is an undisputed pop culture icon, and her life story and paintings inspire many creators, from cinematography to literature, from clothing designers to designers of utilitarian objects and interior elements.

Staying in the hot climate of Mexico, in this article we would like to bring you 5 facts about this extraordinary figure that may not be widely known.  

Painting by accident

The young Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón, the artist's full name, planned to become a doctor. At the age of twenty, Frida entered one of the best universities in Mexico, the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria, where she intended to study medical science and the human body.

The painter's fascination with corporeality did not go away as her life plans changed, brutally thwarted by a dramatic accident. As a result of this tragic event, Frida Kahlo suffered a fracture of the spine, leg fractures in eleven places, as well as a fracture of the pelvis, which ruined any chance of giving birth to a child… Frida Kahlo's condition was so bad that doctors doubted whether she would survive. The long convalescence confined the young woman to bed, which led her to search for a way to kill time and express what Frida Kahlo felt in her new, dramatic situation. For her, painting was a way of taming the pain and the painful reality that the artist had to face from then on.

Aversion to Paris 

France was crazy about the exotic style of this eccentric painter from a distant country, but without reciprocation. Called by many the city of artists, Paris with its decadent atmosphere did not please the painter at all. So much so, that in her letters she repeatedly expressed her dislike for the local artists, using such blunt terms as "Parisian sons of bitches, rotten to the core". Despite the success of her exhibition and the admiration and affection of such eminent artists as Kandinsky, Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dali and Picasso, Frida Kahlo never managed to rekindle her affection for France. The French, on the other hand, not at all discouraged by Frida Kahlo's reluctance, honoured her and her work with the cover of Vogue magazine, which featured… the painter's hand. 

Frida's 500 pesos

Although Frida Kahlo enjoyed worldwide recognition, she gained her greatest popularity only after her death. During her lifetime she was mainly known as the wife of Diego Rivera, a famous muralist of the time, while today it is Diego who is known as her husband. Mexicans are extremely proud of their painter, who was still considered a symbol of feminism in her time. A bisexual preacher of women's equality, a symbol of victory over suffering and disability, she is now one of Mexico's most recognisable figures. Her image can be found on the 500 peso banknote. Interestingly, Frida Kahlo shares it with her spouse, Diego Rivera, with whom she split after he cheated on her with her sister.  

A record price for a painting by a Latin American artist

It is safe to say that the worldwide craze for Frida Kahlo's works was sparked by the famous film about the artist's life, starring Salma Hayek. Since then, it is hard to imagine that anyone has never heard of this exotic painter. In 2006, her self-portrait entitled "Roots" was sold for $5.6 million, thus setting a record price for a work of art by a Latin American artist. 

Frida Kahlo at the Louvre

Speaking of the issue of Frida Kahlo's popularity during her lifetime, it should also be mentioned that back in 1939, her painting was purchased by the Louvre, thus becoming the first work of art by a 20th century artist from Mexico in the museum. 

Frida Kahlo inspires!

The above five facts about Frida Kahlo are just the tip of the iceberg. Liberated and rebellious, living in a turbulent relationship, the artist is today one of the most famous representatives of Mexican culture. She is a fascinating, poignant and inspiring figure. She certainly belongs to the pantheon of cultural icons of the 20th century. Frida Kahlo's face with its characteristic eyebrows and a slight moustache, surrounded by a garland of multicoloured flowers, is reproduced today on a whole range of objects, from clothing to interior decoration. 

Contemporary craftsmen have also drawn on Frida Kahlo's popularity. One of the most interesting Mexican tiles in our collection are tiles with the image of the famous painter. We are talking about patchwork Fridas, a set of 30 colourful tiles of Talavera type, handmade by Mexican craftsmen. Tiles of this type are ideal for the kitchen or bathroom. Thanks to the glazing, which gives them an interesting visual effect, they are resistant to scratches and abrasion. 

If you are a lover of exotic Mexican climate and a fan of Frida Kahlo's works, you will surely notice how many references to her works can be found around us today!

Date added: 30 November 2021
Author: Julietta Torbus
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