Frida Kahlo liked to laugh, sing, joke, and be silly. She used to say that nothing is worth more than laughter. “It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself to light,” she said.
Who was Frida Kahlo?
I am sure you want to know who Frida Kahlo was. Before we learn anything more about her, there are a few words that describe her perfectly: brave, strong, resilient, creative and hopeful.
Frida Kahlo was born on July 6, 1907, in the town of Coyoacán in Mexico.
Mexico is a country located in the southern part of North America. Throughout its history, Mexico has been home to great artists. The Maya and other Native Americans made impressive murals, sculptures, and jewelry. Modern Mexican artists include great painters, photographers, sculptors, and muralists.
Frida grew up with her parents and five sisters. Her father was an artist and a photographer. He took pictures of important buildings in Mexico and often took along Frida with him. These outings developed in Frida a deep appreciation of Mexico and her heritage. He also taught her to use colours and paintbrushes. Frida was a natural storyteller and even had an imaginary friend.
At age six, she contracted polio, which is a dreadful disease. She was in bed for almost a whole year, and although the doctors claimed that she will never walk again, she did walk. When she finally went back to school, she limped as her right leg had become shorter and skinnier. Her classmates made fun of her, but Frida was brave. With her father’s encouragement, she worked very hard and played different sports to make her affected leg stronger.
When Frida was 18 years old, she got involved in a terrible bus accident. She broke many bones. The doctors thought she would not survive. But she did. When she finally got home from the hospital, she was in a lot of pain and in a body-cast. She had to lie in bed on her back and look at the ceiling all day.
Then one day she decided to paint.
Frida’s parents made a special easel and propped it above her. They also put a mirror above her bed.
During her entire life, Frida created 143 paintings, 55 of which were self-portraits. She would study her reflection in the mirror and paint herself. She also painted herself with her pet monkey, Fulang-Chang, her dog, Xolot, and her parrots.
Frida did not sell many paintings, and had only one solo exhibition in Mexico in her lifetime, in 1953. Her work was rediscovered by art historians in the late 1970s, after which her paintings got exhibited in all major art museums all over the world. Her works sell for very high prices.
Considering the constant pain she was in throughout her life, but continuing to paint pictures, Frida has become an international icon of strength and resilience. The images of her self-portraits: her unibrow, jewellery, braided hair with flowers on her head like a crown, and long skirts, have been reproduced on anything and everything…mouse-pads, socks, fridge magnets, postage stamps, furniture…
Books have been written about her, and also a motion picture was made about her life.
This “Fridamania” started in the 1990s. Dead at age 47, in 1954, she achieved celebrity far beyond Mexico’s borders.