Frida Kahlo

Painter

Stats:

Lived:
July 6, 1907 — July 13, 1954

Birth Place:
Coyoacán, Mexico

Famous:

Chief Accomplishment:
Painter best known for her self-portraits that incorporate symbolism and Mexican culture.

Other Notable Accomplishments:

Mexican revolutionary and activist, member of the Mexican Communist Party.

Considered one of few women surrealists of her time.

Married to Diego Rivera, another famous Mexican Revolutionary artist known for fresco paintings.

Made political, social, and personal commentary pieces to reflect Mexican government and culture at the time.

Wrote diaries about her life, which were published after her death.

Freethinker:

Everyone Should Be Treated Equally. Kahlo treated everyone as having equal status. When teaching, she would make her students address everyone in the class informally, including herself. Kahlo treated her students like esteemed colleagues, her servants as companions, and children as dear friends.

Lying About Her Age. Like some, Kahlo lied about her age, claiming her birth year to be 1910 instead of 1907. Unlike most that lie about their age for the purposes of vanity, Kahlo lied about her age to align her birthday with the Mexican Revolution and the overthrow of the Mexican president, Porfirio Díaz.

Famous Last Words. Late in life, Kahlo suffered medical problems. Early in 1954, she lost her right leg from the knee down from gangrene and suffered from bronchopneumonia, so she was in pretty fragile condition in her last few months. A few days before her death she wrote in her personal diary, "I hope the exit is joyful—and that I never return." It was believed that she died from complications with her respiratory system.

Interesting Facts:

Kahlo fell ill with what was thought to be polio when she was 6 years old, causing her right leg to become weakened and deformed for the rest of her life. In elementary school, children cruelly nicknamed her "Peg-leg Frida." She often would wear long full skirts to cover her deformity.

Not originally an artist, Kahlo was one of only 35 women attending the prestigious National Preparatory School to become a doctor.

When Kahlo was 18, she was in a terrible accident in which a trolley hit a bus that she was riding. A metal handrail pierced Kahlo's pelvis, leaving doctors questioning whether she would live or die since her spinal cord was broken in three places. She lived through the event, but was bedridden for almost a year and would never be able to have children. It is also when she started to pick up painting.

A huge animal lover, Kahlo had all sorts of pets including spider monkeys, dogs, deer, and birds.

Kahlo was famously known for her facial hair: a unibrow and mustache.