Frida Kahlo found a different way of experiencing life. Rather than wallowing in self-pity, Frida painted. After a horrific bus accident left her painfully bedridden, her surrealist self-portraits helped her process her pain onto the canvas. In doing so, she pressed the boundaries of the art world to become one of Mexico’s most famous artists.
What’s more, Frida was 100 percent authentic, painted what she felt, and cared not what the critics thought. She rocked a unibrow, facial hair and the colorful Tehuana dresses, that hid her damaged legs. And she was open about her love affairs with both men and women – love is love and inspiration.
Nothing is worth more than laughter. There is strength in laughter and letting go, in being light. Tragedy is the most ridiculous thing that humans have.
Life experience is a common theme in Kahlo’s approximately 200 paintings, sketches and drawings. Her physical and emotional pain are depicted starkly on canvases, as is her turbulent relationship with her husband, fellow artist Diego Rivera, who she married twice. Of her 143 paintings, 55 are self-portraits.
Although Frida gained some fame during her short life, her feminist activism keeps her name current. Today, her home studio is a major tourist attraction in Mexico City, painted and decorated in the Kahlo style. Movies and documentaries have been made of her, including the Academy Award winning film “Frida,” that starred Selma Hayak. And her husband, Diego Rivera, is now known as “Frida’s husband.”
Unconventional as her life was, a major accomplishment happened early in her career when, in 1939, The Lourve in Paris purchased Kahlo’s “The Frame,” making it the first work by a 20th-century Mexican artist. Kudo’s Frida. In 2006, her self-portrait “Roots” sold for a record U.S. $5.6 million dollars, the largest ever for any Latin American piece of art.
Through Frida’s struggles, she has given hope for finding a way to thrive despite obstacles being cast upon her, despite tumultuous relationships. Her paintings reflect all the pain she endured, physically and emotionally. Her greatest regret was in not being able to have children. Her paintings allowed the healing her soul needed.
“There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the trolley, and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.”