Mexicos Most Famous Woman Artist English Literature Essay

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Frida was born into a good family, Mexican mother and German-Jewish father (who was a famous photographer) and some siblings, one being Cristina her sister.

Frida one day was injured in a street car accident where a rail went through her lower back and out of her vagina. she was in traction and spent most of her life in braces and on medication. While she was ill she began to paint. She needed money so she went to Diego Rivera who was a commissioned muralist to view her works. The first painting she took to him was a portrait of her sister Cristina (whom later betrayed Frida by sleeping with her husband).

The friendship with Diego turned into a love affair. He was very much flirt and had his share of women. He married Frida and they moved to Detroit. She was not very happy to be so far from home, her mother died, and was very confused between the Mexican culture she knew and loved and her new life in America. She and Diego were unstable. They did not have a happy marriage. Frida suffered a miscarriage and Diego cheated on her with her sister Cristina and Frida left him. Even then she loved him.

She was involved in Communist politics and her art not only reflected her potitical and cultural life & beliefs but included images reflecting her love for Diego. Frida became increasingly ill but continued to paint. Her biggest goal in her life was achieved when she had her own show in her native country Mexico. She died shortly after this.

Frida work is widely known for her self-portraits often expressing her own physical pain and suffering through symbolism. Her paintings also reflect bitter truths of her life. Life brought her physical and psychological trauma.

From right: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Malu Block in 1932. (Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection)

In the last three decades she has gained admiration in Europe and the US resulting in the 2002 movie about her life starring Salma Hayek, which sparked even further interest in the life and arts of Frida Kahlo. Her house in Coyoacán, Mexico is a museum and visited by large numbers of tourists every year.

General facts about Frida Kahlo:

During her convalescence at age 47 Kahlo had begun to paint with oils.

Her pictures, mostly self-portraits and still lifes, were deliberately naive, filled with the bright colors and flattened forms of the Mexican folk art.

she had her first solo exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York City in 1938.

her reputation soared posthumously beginning in the 1980s with the publication of numerous books about her work by feminist art historians and others

In the last two decades an explosion of Kahlo-inspired films, plays, calendars, and jewelry has transformed the artist into a veritable cult figure.

In my opinion she was one of the most, if not the most influential women we have seen. She painted with a love and an emotion and lived a life different than most people would even today. She was rebellious, broke the mold and strong. She was passionate and eclectic.

Frida was constantly reinventing herself in the way she dresssed and behaved. I admire the way that despite being severely crippled in a trolley-bus accident at a young age she was able to develop an amazing career for herself and because of frankness expressed in her paintings dealing with childbirth and motherhood she encouraged scores of other women artists active latter in the 20th century to deal with their own personal traumas and conflicts and strive from them.

Frida has brought transcultural and feminist values. Being a woman who lived her life through the expression of symbols, Frida Kahlo has become herself a symbol representing many things to many different people.

She passed away on July 13, 1954, leaving behind this message:

"I hope the exit is joyful- and I hope never to return - Frida".

"I paint self portraits because I am the person I know best." - Frida Kahlo

I believe Frida looks so sad in her portraits reflecting all the suffering she went through and also a sign of strength there was a lot of suffering in her life she endured and overcame some hideous trials in her life: I respect her for that. She was in a bus accident when she was young and was plagued with health problems for the rest of her life she could not have children and in later years could not walk her husband cheated on her many times and even slept with her sister however she always was passionate about her work and her culture and she did not want to just look depressed in her portraits but fierce.

Work #1

This portrait shows Mr Diego Rivera and Frida, Diego was a much older man than Frida, this portrait potrays him as she saw him, bigger, taller and fatter a much bigger man that Frida and if you notice Fridas face she did not seem very happy, she looks disgusted, this portrait makes me feel that Mr Diego dominated the marriage and Frida looks more like a unhappy child next to Mr. Diego.

Frida was a close friend of Tina Modotti, who modelled for Diego Rivera, and through her Frida and Diego met again, and fell in love.  They married August 21st, 1929.

Self-Portrait, 1930

Frida and Diego Rivera, 1931

This folkloric style double-portrait may have been based on their wedding photograph. It was completed about two years after their marriage while Frida and Diego were in San Francisco. The difference in height between the couple is not exaggerated. Frida's dainty feet barely touch the ground and she appears to float beside her larger than life husband. With his palette and brushes in hand, Rivera is portrayed as an artist while she, dressed in traditional Mexican clothes, presents herself only as the adoring wife. She gave this painting to art collector Albert Bender in gratitude for the USA entry visa he helped to acquire for Diego. Diego had previously been refused entry into the USA due to his Communist party affiliation. In the title of this printing, Frida uses the German spelling of her name. The banner at the top of the painting proclaims: "Here you see us, me, Frieda Kahlo, with my beloved husband Diego Rivera. I painted these portraits in the beautiful city of San Francisco California for our friend Mr. Albert Bender, and it was in the month of April of the year 1931".

When the painting was finished in 1931, a San Francisco newspaper described the work as being: "...valuable only because it was painted by the wife of Diego Rivera".

This painting was shown at the "Sixth Annual Exhibition of the San Francisco Society of Women Artists" - the first public showing of her work

Work #2

In 1939 Diego and Frida divorced, and Frida felt very sad and distraught by this.   She produced many fine paintings in this period, but being devastated by the divorce, she consumed a lot of liquor, and her health deteriorated rapidly.  She had circulatory and other problems associated with the incidents she had had before.

The Two Fridas, 1939

Shortly after her divorce from Diego Rivera, Frida completed this self-portrait of two different personalities. In her diary, Frida writes that this painting originated from her memory of an imaginary childhood friend. Later she admitted it records the emotions surrounding her separation and martial crisis. On the right, the part of her person which was respected and loved by Diego, is the Mexican Frida in Tehuana costume. In her hand she holds an amulet bearing the portrait of Diego as a child. On the left, a more rather European Frida in a lacy white Victorian wedding dress, the Frida that Diego abandoned. The hearts of the two women lie exposed, a device Frida often used to express her pain. The unloved Frida's heart is broken while the other Frida's heart is whole. From the amulet that Frida is holding springs a vein that travels through both women's hearts and is finally cut off by the surgical pincers held in the lap of the rejected Frida. In despair, Frida tries to stop the flow of blood from Diego but it keeps dripping…she is in danger of bleeding to death. The stormy sky filled with agitated clouds may reflect Frida's inner turmoil. Holding her own hand, she is her only companion.

In 1947, this painting was purchased by the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Institute of Fine Arts) in Mexico City. The purchase price was 4,000 Pesos (about $1,000) for the painting and an additional 36 Pesos for the frame. That was the most Frida was ever paid for a painting during her lifetime.

A reproduction of this painting is on display in the Frida Kahlo Museum in Coyoacán, Mexico.

Work #3

The Broken Column, 1944

The Broken Column, done in 1944, may be the one of Frida's paintings that show the pain she was feeling the most.  The Column itself, which is broken, shows one of the sources of her pain, the nails in her body show in a physical way the pain she was enduring, and the tears in Frida's eyes show that her pain was excruciating.  Frida's face shows both courage, and resignation; Frida's nudity may suggest that she felt she could do little about her situation.  But in spite of all her pain.

This self-portrait is in sharp contrast to Frida's other self-portraits in that she is all alone… no monkeys, no cats, no parrots, and no background of protective leaves and plants. Instead, Frida stands all alone crying on a vast baron plain beneath a stormy sky. Perhaps it's her way of saying that she must deal with her physical and emotional pain on her own.

In 1944 when Frida painted this self-portrait, her health had deteriorated to the point where she had to wear a steel corset for five months. She described it as a "punishment". The straps of the corset seem to be all that is holding the artist's broken body together and upright. An Ionic column, broken in several places, symbolizes her damaged spine. The yawning cleft in her body is repeated in the furrows of the bleak fissured landscape. An even more powerful symbol of her pain are the nails piercing her face and body. The nails represent the physical pain she has endured since her accident. The larger nail piercing her heart represents the emotional pain caused by Diego.

When Frida's long time friend and art student, Arturo Garcia Bustos, saw the finished painting he was terribly distressed by the message it conveyed. Although the painting is obviously a reflection of her current physical and emotional state at the time, it also carries a message of humor in it. "You must laugh at life…" Frida said. "Look very very closely at my eyes…the pupils are doves of peace. That is my little joke on pain and suffering…"

Frida originally painted herself completely nude but then later decided that her total nudity distracted from the central theme and focus of the painting.