Celebrating the life and birth of the woman, the icon, Frida Kahlo

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Born on July 6, 1907, if still alive Frida Kahlo would be turning 116 years old. However, Kahlo passed away on July 13, 1954, at the age of 47. Photo: Courtesy

Frida Kahlo was a prominent painter known for her unique style and powerful self-portraits. Her artwork often depicted themes of identity, pain, and the female experience.

Kahlo’s work is characterized by its vivid colors, symbolic imagery, and incorporation of Mexican culture. She often included elements such as animals, plants, and indigenous Mexican artifacts in her paintings. Kahlo’s self-portraits were deeply personal and explored themes of her physical and emotional suffering, as well as her Mexican heritage.

Frida Kahlo’s art gained recognition both in Mexico and internationally during her lifetime, but she achieved even greater posthumous fame. Her work has had a profound impact on the art world and continues to inspire artists and admirers around the world. 

Self-portrait of Frida Kahlo as a deer wounded by multiple arrows, representing the chronic pain she suffered after being injured in a tram accident in Mexico City. Photo: Courtesy

Earlier: 10 fantastic Mexican female artists who are not Frida Kahlo

Kahlo has also become quite the pop culture icon, with her image appearing on everything from designer bags to earrings and magnets. While it’s impossible to know exactly how Kahlo would feel about such a thing, it’s likely she would not be amused to have her likeness used in such ways — as she was known to be a staunch communist. 

Leon Trotsky (1879-1940) was a Russian revolutionary and late in life a close friend of Frida and Diego. He was assassinated while living at La Casa Azul, the residence of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in the Coyoacan neighborhood of Mexico City.

In the aftermath of the assassination of Trotsky (pictured to the left) in 1940 by KGB forces, an estimated 300,000 people passed by his casket in Mexico City over several days. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Frida Kahlo had a tumultuous and complex relationship with Diego Rivera, arguably Mexico’s most famous muralist. The two artists first met when Kahlo was a student and Rivera was painting a mural at her school. They later reconnected and eventually married in 1929. 

Portrait of a young Frida and her “sapo” (toad) Deigo Rivera. Photo: Courtesy

Early on in her artistic career, Kahlo was often dismissed as simply the wife of Diego Rivera. One Detroit newspaper went as far as choosing the headline “Wife of the Master Mural Painter Gleefully Dabbles in Works of Art” to announce an upcoming exhibition. However, this status as “Diego’s wife” would not last for long. 

Some headlines really do age like milk. Photo: Courtesy

The couple divorced in 1939 but remarried the following year. They continued to have a complicated relationship until Kahlo’s death in 1954. Even after their divorce, they remained connected and supported each other’s artistic endeavors.

Kahlo’s life and art have been the subject of numerous books, films, and exhibitions. She remains an iconic figure and an important symbol of strength and resilience.

Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy, and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway.
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