Frida Kahlo

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This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Kahlo and the second or maternal family name is Calderón.
Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo, by Guillermo Kahlo.jpg
Kahlo in 1932, photographed by her father Guillermo Kahlo
Born Magdalena Carmen Frieda[1] Kahlo y Calderón
(1907-07-06)July 6, 1907
Coyoacán, Mexico City, Mexico
Died July 13, 1954(1954-07-13) (aged 47)
Coyoacán, Mexico City, Mexico
Nationality Mexican
Education Self–taught
Known for Self-portraits
Notable work in museums:
Movement Surrealism, Magic realism

Frida Kahlo de Rivera (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈfɾiða ˈkalo]; July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954), born Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón,[1][3] was a Mexican painter known for her self-portraits.[4]

Kahlo's life began and ended in Mexico City, in her home, which is known as "La Casa Azul," the Blue House. Her work has been celebrated internationally as emblematic of Mexican national and indigenous traditions, and by feminists for its uncompromising depiction of the female experience and form.[5]

Mexican culture and tradition are important in her work, which has been sometimes characterized as naïve art or folk art.[6] Her work has also been described as surrealist, and in 1938 André Breton, principal initiator of the surrealist movement, described Kahlo's art as a "ribbon around a bomb".[5] Frida rejected the "surrealist" label imposed by Breton, as she argued that her work reflected more of her reality than her dreams.[7]

Kahlo had a volatile marriage with the famous Mexican artist Diego Rivera. She suffered lifelong health problems, many of which were caused by a traffic accident she survived as a teenager. Recovering from her injuries isolated her from other people, and this isolation influenced her works, many of which are self-portraits. Kahlo suggested, "I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best."[8]


Family and childhood[edit]

Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón[a] was born on July 6, 1907 in Coyoacán, a village on the outskirts of Mexico City.[10] Kahlo always stated that she was born at the family home, La Casa Azul (The Blue House), but according to the official birth registry, the birth took place at the nearby home of her maternal grandmother.[11] Kahlo's parents were photographer Guillermo Kahlo (1871–1941) and Matilde Calderón y González (1876–1932). Originally from Germany, Guillermo had emigrated to Mexico in 1891, after epilepsy caused by an accident ended his university studies.[12] Although Kahlo claimed that her father was Jewish, genealogical research has shown that he came from a Lutheran background.[13][14] Matilde was born in Oaxaca to an indigenous father and a mother of Spanish descent.[15] In addition to Kahlo, the marriage produced daughters Matilde (c. 1898–1951), Adriana (c. 1902–1968), and Cristina (c. 1908–1964).[16] She also had two half-sisters from Guillermo's first marriage, María Luisa and Margarita, but they were raised in a convent.[17]

Kahlo (on the right) and her sisters Cristina, Matilde, and Adriana, photographed by their father

Kahlo later described the atmosphere in her childhood home as often "very, very sad".[18] She stated that her mother was "kind, active and intelligent, but also calculating, cruel and fanatically religious".[19] Matilde's relationships with all four of her daughters were tense, to the extent that the eldest, Matilde, ran away as a teen and had no contact with her parents for several years.[19] Both parents were also often ill, and Guillermo's photography business suffered greatly during the Mexican Revolution of 1910–1920, as the overthrown government had commissioned works from him and the long civil war limited the number of private clients.[20]

When Kahlo was six years old, she contracted polio, which rendered her right leg shorter and thinner than the left.[21][b] The illness forced her to be isolated from her peers for months, and subsequently made her the target of bullies due to her deformed leg.[21] The experience profoundly changed her personality, making her introverted,[18] but it also made her Guillermo's favorite as he bonded with her due to their shared experience of living with disability.[24] Kahlo credited him for making her childhood "marvellous ... he was an immense example to me of tenderness, of work (photographer and also painter), and above all in understanding for all my problems".[25] Guillermo taught her about literature, nature, and philosophy, and encouraged her to exercise and play sports to regain her strength after polio.[26] She took up bicycling, roller skating, swimming, boxing, and wrestling, despite the fact that many of these activities were then reserved for boys.[27] Her father also taught her photography, and she began helping him retouch, develop, and color his photographs.[28]

Due to her illness, Kahlo began school later than her peers.[29] While her sisters attended convent schools, she was enrolled in a German school by her father.[30] After graduating, she passed difficult entrance examinations to attend the elite National Preparatory School in 1922.[31] The institution had only recently begun admitting women, and she was one of the only thirty-five girls out of a total of 2,000 students.[32] She chose to focus on natural sciences with the aim of proceeding to medical school.[31] Although she was not especially studious, she received high grades.[33]

At the preparatory school, Kahlo joined the "Cachucas", a group of nine rebellious students who pulled pranks, staged plays, and read philosophy and Russian classics.[34] Many of its members would become leading figures of the Mexican intellectual elite.[34] It was in this group that Kahlo became interested in socialism and Mexican nationalism.[34] To mask the fact that she was older than her school friends, and to declare herself a "daughter of the revolution", she began saying that she had been born on July 7, 1910, the year the Mexican Revolution began, a habit which she would continue throughout her life.[35] Her first romantic relationship was with a fellow Cachuca, Alejandro Gómez Arias.[36]

In addition to her other hobbies, Kahlo enjoyed art, attending drawing classes by her father's friend, printmaker Fernando Fernández[37] and filling notebooks with sketches.[38] In 1925, she began to work alongside school to help her family.[39] After taking classes in typing and shorthand writing and briefly holding positions at a pharmacy, a lumber yard and a factory, she became a paid engraving apprentice for Fernández.[40] Although she did not consider art as a career during this time,[38] he was impressed by her skill she demonstrated when she copied works by Swedish Impressionist painter Anders Zorn.[41]

Bus accident, beginnings as a painter, and marriage to Diego Rivera[edit]

Kahlo photographed by her father in 1926

On September 17, 1925, Kahlo and Gómez Arias were on their way home from school when the wooden bus they were riding collided with a streetcar. Several people were killed, and Kahlo suffered nearly fatal injuries--an iron handrail impaled her through her pelvis, fracturing the bone, and she also fractured several ribs, her legs, and a collarbone.[42][c] She initially spent a month in the hospital and two months recovering at home,[44] before being able to return to work to cover her medical expenses.[45] She continued to experience fatigue and back pain throughout 1926, so doctors ordered x-rays which revealed that the accident had also displaced three vertebrae.[46] Her treatment included wearing a plaster corset and being confined to bed at La Casa Azul for several months.[46]

The accident ended Kahlo's dreams of becoming a doctor, and she experienced pain and illness for the rest of her life.[47] To occupy herself during her recovery, she began to paint with the aid of a special easel that made it possible for her to paint in bed, and a mirror that was placed above her so that she could see herself.[48] She started to consider a career as a medical illustrator, which would have allowed her to combine her interests in science and art,[49] and began to use painting to explore questions of identity and existence.[50] Kahlo later stated that the accident and the isolating recovery period made her desire "to begin again, painting things just as I saw them with my own eyes and nothing more."[51]

Most of the paintings Kahlo made during this time were portraits of herself, her sisters and school friends.[52] The preparatory school and the influence of her father, an amateur painter, had made her well-versed in art history, and her early paintings and letters show that she drew inspiration especially from European artists, in particular Renaissance masters such as Sandro Botticelli and Bronzino[53] and avant garde movements such as Neue Sachlichkeit and Cubism.[54]

Kahlo's confinement was over by late 1927, and she began again socializing with her old school friends, who were now at university and involved in student politics. She joined the Mexican Communist Party, and was introduced to a circle of political activists and artists, including the exiled Cuban communist Julio Antonio Mella, and the Italian-American photographer Tina Modotti.[55] At one of Modotti's parties in June 1928, Kahlo was also introduced to Diego Rivera, one of Mexico's most celebrated artists and a notable figure in the Communist Party.[56] They had already met briefly in 1922, when he was painting a mural at her school.[57] Shortly after they were introduced, Kahlo approached him to judge whether her paintings showed enough talent for her to pursue a career as an artist.[58] Rivera recalled being impressed by her works, stating that they showed "an unusual energy of expression, precise delineation of character, and true severity ... They had a fundamental plastic honesty, and an artistic personality of their own ... It was obvious to me that this girl was an authentic artist".[59]

Kahlo with husband Diego Rivera in 1932

Kahlo began a relationship with Rivera, despite the fact that he was 42 years old, had had two common law wives, and was a well-known womanizer.[60] They were married in a civil ceremony at the town hall of Coyoacán on August 21, 1929.[61] Kahlo's parents described the union as a "marriage between an elephant and a dove", referring to the couple's differences in appearance — he was over six feet tall and weighed around 300 pounds, while she was 5'3” and 98 pounds.[62] While her mother was against the marriage, her father approved of it as Rivera would be able to pay for Kahlo's continuing medical expenses.[63] The wedding was reported by both Mexican and international press,[64] and the marriage would be subject to constant media attention in Mexico in the coming years, with articles referring to the couple with the familiar names "Diego and Frida".[65]

Soon after the marriage, in late 1929, Kahlo and Rivera moved to Cuernavaca, where he was commissioned by American ambassador Dwight W. Morrow to paint murals for the Palace of Cortés.[66] Around the same time, he resigned from the Communist party after being accused of disloyalty, and she also resigned in solidarity.[67]

In the late 1920s, Kahlo changed her artistic style, beginning to draw inspiration increasingly from Mexican folk art.[68] Art historian Andrea Kettenmann states that she may have been influenced Adolfo Best Maugard's treatise on the subject, as she incorporated many of the characteristics outlined by him, for example the lack of perspective, and the combining of elements from pre-Columbian and colonial periods of Mexican art.[69] Similarly to many other Mexican women artists and intellectuals at the time,[70] Kahlo also began wearing traditional indigenous Mexican peasant clothing to emphasize her mestiza ancestry: long and colorful skirts, huipils and rebozos, elaborate headdresses and masses of jewelry.[71] She especially favored the dress of women from the allegedly matriarchal society of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, who had come to represent "an authentic and indigenous Mexican cultural heritage" in post-revolutionary Mexico.[72] The Tehuana outfit allowed Kahlo to express her feminist and anti-colonialist ideals,[73] hid her damaged body, and appealed to Rivera, who believed that "Mexican women who do not wear [Mexican clothing] ... are mentally and emotionally dependent on a foreign class to which they wish to belong".[74][d] Her identification with la raza, the people of Mexico, and her profound interest in its culture were to remain important facets of her art throughout the rest of her life.[77]

Career as a painter[edit]

1937 photograph by Toni Frissell, from a fashion shoot for Vogue

After her accident, Kahlo abandoned the study of medicine and began to paint, to occupy herself during her three-month immobilization. Self-portraits were a dominant motif then. Kahlo once said, "I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best."[8] Her mother had a special easel made so she could paint in bed, and her father lent her his box of oil paints and some brushes.[78] The 1926 painting, entitled Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress, shows her with a long and narrow face and neck, reflective of Italian Renaissance ideals.[79]

Kahlo's accident made it impossible for her to have her own children, resulting in several miscarriages throughout her life.[80] Because of her experiences with infertility, many of her paintings reference reproductive failure.[81] She painted Henry Ford Hospital right after her miscarriage in 1932. In this work, Frida depicts herself on a bed bleeding, with the cold and industrial feeling from being far from home in Detroit, shown behind her. She chose to paint on a sheet of metal.[79]

Kahlo created at least 140 paintings, along with dozens of drawings and studies. Of her paintings, 55 are self-portraits which often incorporate symbolic portrayals of physical and psychological wounds. She insisted, "I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality."[82]

Diego Rivera had a great influence on Kahlo's painting style. Kahlo had always admired Rivera and his work. She first approached him in the Ministry of Public Education, where he had been working on a mural in 1927. She showed him four of her paintings, and asked whether he considered her gifted. Rivera was impressed and said, "You have got talent." After that, he became a frequent welcomed guest at Kahlo's house. He gave her many insights about her artwork while still leaving her space to explore herself. The positive and encouraging comments made by Rivera strengthened Kahlo's wish to pursue a career as an artist.[83]

Kahlo was also influenced by indigenous Mexican culture, which is apparent in her use of bright colors, dramatic symbolism and primitive style. She frequently included the monkey, which in Mexican mythology is a symbol of lust, and Kahlo portrayed it as tender and protective symbols. Christian and Jewish themes are often depicted in her work.[84] She combined elements of the classic religious Mexican tradition with surrealist renderings.

In 1938, Kahlo had her only solo gallery showing in the United States at the Julien Levy Gallery. The works were well received and several prominent artists attended the event.[85] At the invitation of André Breton, she went to France during 1939 and was featured at an exhibition of her paintings in Paris. The Louvre bought one of her paintings on display, The Frame. It was the first work of a twentieth-century Mexican artist that the Louvre purchased. Kahlo made the acquaintance of Wolfgang Paalen and Alice Rahon, whom she invited to come to Mexico.[86]


Malú Block (left), Frida Kahlo (center), and Diego Rivera were photographed in Manhattan by Carl Van Vechten in 1932 while Rivera was working on a commissioned mural in Rockefeller Center

As a young artist, Kahlo communicated with the Mexican painter Diego Rivera, whose work she admired, asking him for advice about pursuing art as a career. He recognized her talent[87] and encouraged her artistic development. They began an intimate relationship and were married in 1929, despite the disapproval of Kahlo's mother.

Their marriage was often troubled. Kahlo and Rivera both had irritable temperaments and numerous extramarital affairs. The bisexual Kahlo had affairs with both men and women, including Isamu Noguchi;[3] rumors of an affair with Josephine Baker, enhanced by scenes from the biopic Frida, have not been substantiated. Rivera knew of and tolerated her relationships with women, but her relationships with men made him jealous. For her part, Kahlo was furious when she learned that Rivera had an affair with her younger sister, Cristina. The couple divorced in November 1939, but remarried in December 1940. Their second marriage was as troubled as the first. Their living quarters were often separate, although sometimes adjacent.[88]

Later years and death[edit]

Active communists, Kahlo and Rivera befriended Leon Trotsky during the late 1930s, after he fled Norway to Mexico to receive political asylum from the Soviet Union during Joseph Stalin's leadership. During 1937, Trotsky lived initially with Rivera and then at Kahlo's home where he and Kahlo had an affair.[3] Trotsky and his wife then relocated to another house in Coyoacán where, in 1940, he was assassinated. Both Kahlo and Rivera broke with Trotskyism and openly became supporters of Stalin in 1939.[89] In 1938, Kahlo travelled alone to New York for her first solo exhibition; she was celebrated "like a movie star". There she met Hungarian photographer Nickolas Muray, with whom she began a 10-year love affair.[90]

Kahlo's right leg was amputated at the knee due to gangrene in August 1953.[91] She became severely depressed, and after hearing that Rivera was having yet another affair, attempted suicide by overdose.[91] Her addiction to painkillers escalated, and her mood was often extremely irritable and anxious.[91] She wrote in her diary in February 1954 that "they have given me centuries of torture and at moments I almost lost my reason. I keep on wanting to kill myself. Diego is what keeps me from it through my vain idea that he would miss me. ... But never in my life have I suffered more. I will wait a while..."[92] She was again hospitalized in April and May.[93] That spring, she also resumed painting again after a year's interval.[91] Her paintings from this period include the political Marxism Will Give Health to the Sick (c. 1954) and Frida and Stalin (c. 1954), and the still-life Viva La Vida (1954).[94]

Kahlo's death mask on her bed in La Casa Azul

In her last days, Kahlo was mostly bedridden with bronchopneumonia, although she made a public appearance on July 2, 1954, participating with Rivera in a demonstration against the CIA invasion of Guatemala.[95] She seemed to anticipate her death, speaking about it often to visitors and drawing skeletons and angels in her diary.[96] The last drawing was a black angel, which biographer Hayden Herrera interprets as the Angel of Death.[96] It was accompanied by the last words she wrote, "I hope the exit is joyful — and I hope never to return — Frida" ("Espero alegre la salida — y espero no volver jamás").[96]

The demonstration worsened her illness, and on the night of July 12, 1954, Kahlo had high fever and was in pain.[96] At approximately 6 a.m. on July 13, 1954, she was found dead in her bed by her nurse.[97] Kahlo was 47 years old. The official cause of death was pulmonary embolism, although no autopsy was performed.[96] The nurse, who counted Kahlo's painkillers to monitor her drug use, stated that Kahlo had taken an overdose the night she died; she had been prescribed a maximum dose of seven pills, but the morning she was found dead, it was apparent that she had taken eleven.[98] She had also given Rivera a wedding anniversary present that evening, over a month in advance.[98] Due to these details, the lack of autopsy, her previous suicide attempt, and the contents of her diary, Herrera has argued that Kahlo in fact committed suicide.[96][99]

On the evening of July 13, Kahlo's body was taken to the Palacio de Bellas Artes, where it laid in state under a Communist flag.[100] The following day, it was carried to the Panteón Civil de Dolores, where friends and family attended an informal funeral ceremony, while hundreds of admirers stood outside.[100] In accordance to her wishes, Kahlo was cremated.[100] Rivera, who stated that her death was "the most tragic day of my life", died three years later in 1957.[100] He bequeathed La Casa Azul to the people of Mexico, and it was opened as a museum in 1958; her ashes are displayed there in a pre-Columbian urn.[100]

Posthumous recognition[edit]

Image of Kahlo for Day of the Dead at the Museo Frida Kahlo

Aside from the 1939 acquisition by the Louvre and a 1946 $1,000 award from the Mexican Government for her painting,[101] Kahlo's work was not widely acclaimed until decades after her death. Often she was remembered only as Diego Rivera's wife. It was not until the end of the 1970s and the early 1980s, with the beginning of Neomexicanismo, that she became well-known to the public.[102][103] It was during this time that artists such as Kahlo, Abraham Ángel, Ángel Zárraga, and others gained recognition, and Jesus Helguera's classical calendar paintings became famous.[102]

Additional factors during the 1980s helped to make her better known: The first retrospective of Kahlo's work outside Mexico exhibited alongside the photographs of Tina Modotti opened at the Whitechapel Gallery in London in May 1982, organized and co-curated by Peter Wollen and Laura Mulvey. The exhibition traveled to Sweden, Germany, Manhattan, and Mexico City. The movie Frida, naturaleza viva (1983), directed by Paul Leduc with Ofelia Medina as Kahlo and painter Juan José Gurrola as Diego, was a great success. Hayden Herrera published the biography, Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo in 1983,[104] which became a worldwide bestseller.[105] Raquel Tibol, a Mexican artist and personal friend of Kahlo, wrote Frida Kahlo: una vida abierta (2003).[106] Mexican art critic and psychoanalyst Teresa del Conde wrote a biography in 1992[107] and texts by other Mexican critics and theorists, such as Jorge Alberto Manrique appeared.[102]

Frida Kahlo, The Suicide of Dorothy Hale, 1939, Oil on masonite, 60.4 × 48.6 cm. – The Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, Arizona, USA. The legend translated: "In the city of New York on the twenty-first day of the month of October, 1938, at six o'clock in the morning, Mrs. Dorothy Hale committed suicide by throwing herself out of a very high window of the Hampshire House building. In her memory Mrs. Clare Boothe Luce commissioned[108] this retablo, executed by Frida Kahlo."[109]

From 1990–91, Kahlo's Diego on my Mind (1943), oil on masonite, 76 by 61 centimeters piece was used as the representative piece on the post for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Mexico: Splendors of Thirty Centuries art exhibit. In 1991, the opera Frida by Robert Xavier Rodriguez, which had been commissioned by the American Music Theater Festival, premiered in Philadelphia.[110] In 1994, American jazz flautist and composer James Newton released an album inspired by Kahlo titled Suite for Frida Kahlo on AudioQuest Music (now known as Sledgehammer Blues).[111] On June 21, 2001, Kahlo became the first Hispanic woman to be honored with a U.S. postage stamp.[112] Frida (2002) is an American biographical movie, directed by Julie Taymor, in which Salma Hayek portrayed the artist.[113] The film, based on Herrera's book, grossed US$58 million worldwide and earned six Academy Award nominations, winning two (Best Makeup and Best Original Score).[113] In 2015, choreographer Gregory Hancock created a new musical based on Kahlo's life, entitled "La Casa Azul", performed at the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre.[114]

From 9 June to 9 October 2005, close to 80 paintings by Kahlo were presented at the Tate Modern in London.[115] In 2006, Kahlo's painting Roots (1943) set a US$5.6 million auction record for a Latin American work.[116] In 2008, a play based on Kahlo's life premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Frida Kahlo: Viva la vida!, written by Mexican Humberto Robles and performed by Gael Le Cornec, received an Artistic Excellence Award and a best female performer nomination at the Brighton Festival Fringe in 2009.[117] In 2008, a Frida Kahlo exhibition in the United States with more than 40 of her self-portraits, still lifes, and portraits was shown at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and other venues.[118] During May 8 to July 5, 2009, Nickolas Muray's photographs of Kahlo were featured alongside her Self-Portrait of Monkey (1938), in an exhibition at the Albright–Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York.[119]

Barbara Kingsolver's novel, The Lacuna (2009), features Kahlo, her life with Rivera, and her affair with Trotsky.[120] In February 2011, soprano Dawn Upshaw and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra premiered La Centinela y La Paloma (The Keeper and the Dove), composed by Latin Grammy composer Gabriela Lena Frank with texts by Pulitzer Prize playwright Nilo Cruz. The orchestral song cycle imagines Frida Kahlo as a spirit who returns to visit with Diego Rivera during El Día de los Muertos.[121] From July 9 to October 2, 2011, an exhibition of works by Frida Kahlo (1907–1954) and Diego Rivera (1886–1957), Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: Masterpieces from the Gelman Collection, was shown at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, West Sussex.[122] In 2012 Kahlo was inducted into the Legacy Walk, an outdoor public display which celebrates LGBT history and people.[123]

From October 20, 2012 to January 20, 2013, Kahlo's paintings, as well as photographs of her, were featured in a dual retrospective with partner Diego Rivera, entitled Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics, and Painting, at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. The exhibition traveled to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, February 14 to May 12, 2013.[124] In late April 2014, a musical play written and composed by Los Angeles, California playwright Rita Ortez Provost, entitled Tree of Hope, was performed in West Hollywood, California at the Macha Theatre.[125] On October 17, 2014 the four-act opera Frida y Diego by the Finnish composer Kalevi Aho had its premiere at the Helsinki Music Centre, with a libretto in Spanish by Maritza Núñez.[126]

An exhibition lasting from March 15 to July 12, 2015, "Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit," was hosted in the Detroit Institute of Arts, consisting primarily of paintings and sketches created by Kahlo and Rivera during their yearlong stay in the city between 1932 and 1933. This was the first occasion that Kahlo's works had ever been on display in the DIA.[127][128] The exhibition Frida Kahlo, Art-Garden-Life, from May 16 to November 1, 2015, at the New York Botanical Garden,[129] is the first to examine Kahlo’s keen appreciation for the beauty and variety of the natural world, as evidenced by her home and garden as well as the complex use of plant imagery in her artwork.

Centennial celebration[edit]

Kahlo's 100th birthday was commemorated June 13 through August 12, 2007, with the largest exhibit of her paintings at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, which was Kahlo's first comprehensive exhibit in Mexico.[130] Works were on loan from Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Nagoya, Japan. The exhibit included one-third of her artistic production, as well as manuscripts and letters that had not been displayed previously.[130] The exhibit surpassed the museum's previous attendance records.[131] Some of her work was exhibited in Monterrey, Nuevo León, and moved to museums in the United States during September 2007.[132]

On July 6, 2010, Google altered its standard logo to include a portrait of Kahlo, depicted in the style of her art to commemorate the 100th anniversary of her birthday,.[133] On August 30, 2010, the Bank of Mexico issued a new MXN$ 500-peso note, featuring Kahlo and her painting entitled Love's Embrace of the Universe, Earth, (Mexico), I, Diego, and Mr. Xólotl (1949) on the back of the note while her husband Diego Rivera was on the front of the note.[134] From April 30 to August 9, 2010 a "Frida Kahlo Retrospective" at the Walter-Gropius-Bau, Berlin exhibited more than 120 drawings and paintings, including several drawings never before displayed publicly. The show was touted as a "centennial" exhibition, because of Kahlo's "preferred" birth year in 1910 during the Mexican Revolution.[135]

La Casa Azul[edit]

La Casa Azul (The Blue House) in Coyoacán, Mexico City, also referred to as Museo Frida Kahlo since it became a museum in 1958, is the family home where Frida Kahlo grew up and to which she returned in her final years. Her father, Guillermo Kahlo, built the house in 1907 as the Kahlo family home. Leon Trotsky stayed at this house when he first arrived in Mexico in 1937. Trotsky's final site of residence in Mexico City is located in close proximity to the Casa Azul.[136]

Kahlo and Rivera lived together in the Blue House between 1929 and 1954. Diego Rivera donated it upon his death in 1957, three years after that of Kahlo. The house is a museum containing artifacts of her life and is a popular tourist destination.[136]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kahlo was given her first two names so that she could be baptized according to the Catholic calendar, but was always called Frida. She preferred to spell her name "Frieda" until the late 1930s, when she dropped the 'e' as she did not wish to be associated with Germany during the Third Reich.[9]
  2. ^ Given Kahlo's later problems with scoliosis and with her hips and limbs, neurologist Budrys Valmantas has argued that she had a congenital condition, spina bifida, which was diagnosed by Dr. Leo Eloesser when she was a young adult.[22] Psychologist Dr. Salomon Grimberg disagrees, stating that Kahlo's problems were instead the result of not wearing an orthopedic shoe on her affected right leg, which led to damage to her hips and spine.[23]
  3. ^ Kahlo stated that the handrail entered on the left side of her abdomen and exited through her vagina, but according to Gómez Arias, "the wound was much higher up and hit the pelvic bone; the invention of the point of exit was to hide other things."[43]
  4. ^ Kahlo had always used her appearance to make political statements, having previously "dressed like a boy with shaved hair, pants, boots, and a leather jacket" and even posed for a family photo in a man's suit,[75] and during her time in the Communist Party favored "workman's shirts and a-line skirts ... deemed proper for a Communist".[76]


  1. ^ a b Frieda is a German name from the word for peace (Friede/Frieden); Kahlo began omitting the "e" in her name in about 1935. See Frida biography (archive).
  2. ^ Frieda and Diego Rivera (1931) at SFMOMA
  3. ^ a b c Herrera, Hayden (1983). A Biography of Frida Kahlo. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-008589-6. 
  4. ^ Klein, Adam G. (2005). Frida Kahlo. Edina, Minn.: ABDO Pub. Co. ISBN 9781596797314. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Broude, Norma; Garrard, Mary D (1992). The Expanding Discourse: Feminism and Art History. p. 399. 
  6. ^ Karl, Ruhrberg; Manfred Schneckenburger; Christiane Fricke; Klaus Honnef (2000). Frida Kahlo: Art of the 20th Century: Painting, Sculpture, New Media, Photography. Köln: Benedikt Taschen Verlag GmbH. p. 745. ISBN 3-8228-5907-9. 
  7. ^ Herrera. "Hayden". Oxford Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2014-09-28. 
  8. ^ a b Andrea Kettenmann, Frida Kahlo. Frida Kahlo, 1907–1954: pain and passion page 27. Retrieved 29 November 2014. 
  9. ^ Burrus 2005, p. 202; Herrera 2002, pp. 10–11.
  10. ^ Burrus 2005, p. 199; Herrera 2002, pp. 3–4; Ankori 2002, p. 17.
  11. ^ Zamora 1990, p. 15.
  12. ^ Herrera 2002, pp. 4–9; Ankori 2002, p. 17.
  13. ^ Deffebach 2015, p. 52.
  14. ^ Ronnen, Meir (2006-04-20). "Frida Kahlo's father wasn't Jewish after all". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2009-09-02. 
  15. ^ Herrera 2002, pp. 4–9; Ankori 2002, pp. 17–18; Burrus 2005, p. 199.
  16. ^ Herrera 2002, pp. 10-11; Ankori 2002, p. 18.
  17. ^ Herrera 2002, pp. 10-11; Ankori 2002, p. 18; Zamora 1990, pp. 15-16.
  18. ^ a b Ankori 2002, p. 18.
  19. ^ a b Kettenmann 2003, pp. 8–10; Zamora 1990, p. 16; Ankori 2002, p. 18; Burrus 2005, p. 199.
  20. ^ Ankori 2002, p. 18; Herrera 2002, pp. 10-12.
  21. ^ a b Herrera 2002, pp. 10-20.
  22. ^ Budrys 2006, pp. 4-10.
  23. ^ Collins, Amy Fine (September 3, 2013). "Diary of a Mad Artist". Vanity Fair. Retrieved July 17, 2016. 
  24. ^ Burrus 2008, pp. 13–15; Herrera 2002, pp. 10–21.
  25. ^ Kettenmann, pp. 9–10.
  26. ^ Herrera 2002, pp. 10-20; Burrus 2005, p. 199.
  27. ^ Burrus 2008, p. 16.
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Further reading[edit]

  • Aguilar, Louis. Detroit was muse to legendary artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. The Detroit News. April 6, 2011.
  • Barnone, Joshua. Focusing on Women in Surrealism. The New York Times. July 23, 2015.
  • Espinoza, Javier. Frida Kahlo's last secret finally revealed. The Observer at The Guardian. Saturday August 11, 2007.
  • Frida Kahlo, Artist, Diego Rivera's Wife (obituary). The New York Times. Wednesday, July 14, 1954.
  • Farris, Phoebe, ed. Women Artists of color. Farris. 1999.
  • de la Garza, Armida. Adapting Frida Kahlo: The Film-Paintings, in Lucia Nagib and Anne Jerslev (eds.) Impure Cinema. I.B.Tauris, 2014.
  • Griffiths, Jay. Frida Kahlo,.: A life of hope and defiance. The Guardian. March 2014.
  • Grosenick, Uta, ed. Women artists in the 20th and 21st century. Taschen. 2001.
  • Tuchman, Phyllis. The Mexican Artist's myriad faces. Smithsonian Magazine. 2002.

External links[edit]