Diego Rivera and Frida
Kahlo Biography (1907-1954)
- Revealed through
Reading a Frida Kahlo biography is like riding
a roller coaster, or watching a soap opera.
The ups and downs of her life are phenomenal.
Frida had a bout of polio at an early age, a
crippling accident with a trolley car in her
teens, marriage, divorce and remarriage to the
same man, and countless romantic trysts with
both genders. Let us not forget her heartbreaking
miscarriages. Nevertheless, Frida Kahlo was
able to lead a life that produced a worthy legacy
– magnificent paintings that are still
topics of discussion today.
Frida started painting in her early
years, and many of her pieces were gifts to
relatives. One particularly notable still life
entitled ‘Tray with Poppies,’ a
present to her aunt, is a beautiful display
of buds and flowers in bloom. Deemed to have
been painted around her 18th year, this piece
in muted colors shows a remarkable eye for lifelike
quality and arrangement.
Self Portraits of a Hard Life
Frida’s tragic accident left
her not only in a state of emotional debilitation,
but also physically challenged. Life would never
be the same. She would suffer from her injuries
for the rest of her life. Frida decided to give
up her studies in medicine to become a painter.
In 1926, during her rehabilitation period, she
created one of the first of numerous self portraits,
all of which were shaped to reveal her arduous
life. With the use of symbolism, her bright-coloured
canvas often expressed her physical and emotional
pain. She presented herself in various states
of trauma, “painting her own reality.”
Frida once stated, “I paint myself because
I am often alone, and I am the subject I know
Another self portrait was created in 1930,
after she had married Diego Rivera. Once again,
she portrayed herself as a stern-looking woman,
but due to a change in her style of painting,
she reinvented herself, wearing a traditional
Mexican dress and earrings. Gone was the throwback
look of the Renaissance period; her work would
now possess folk art aspects in muted colors.
Frida and Diego Rivera Portrait
Most likely as a celebration of her
marriage to Diego, that is, the first one, Frida
painted a folksy image of herself holding hands
with Diego. Frida wears a simple Mexican dress
with a red shawl. Again no significant expression
of happiness appears on the couple’s faces.
A Frida Kahlo biography does not only depict
a woman’s agonizing personal life, but
also tells of this artist’s unacknowledged
career while existing in the shadow of Diego.
Much of Frida’s work during her lifetime
was not to be displayed in a gallery, but to
be given as gifts to those who had helped Diego
get his U.S. entry visa. Her paintings at the
time were not considered national treasures,
but only gained the public’s attention
and admiration through the years.
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