While Mr. Forager & I are on the road, making our way to California, we’re rerunning Artsy Forager’s most popular posts. This post originally published on May 2, 2011, when the blog was barely two months old. Enjoy!
In honor of Cinco De Mayo this week, I thought we’d focus today on the amazing Frida Kahlo. When I was in painting classes in college, I remember there being this older Bolivian lady who was auditing the classes and she was obsessed with Frida Kahlo. She was sweet but somewhat obnoxious. For a long time, the fact that she was so obsessed with Kahlo managed to turn me off on her artwork. Weird how our minds work sometimes.
But then, somewhere along the line, I let go of this irrational bias and took another look at Kahlo and her work. And I was quickly won over. Health problems plagued Kahlo from a young age, suffering first from polio and then being severly injured in a horrific car accident which left her in a full body cast and bedridden for three months. Though she eventually recovered from her injuries, extreme pain would torment her for the rest of her life.
Before the accident, Kahlo was studying to become a physician, but she dealt with the boredom of being confined to bed by taking up painting with her father’s watercolors. And so, Frida Kahlo, the artist was born.
Kahlo’s work often included symbols of Mexican mythology, as well as those of Christian and Jewish faiths. Though she is perhaps best known for her self-portraits, often depicting events in her own life, such as the accident, subsequent miscarriages, etc.
She married renown Mexican muralist, Diego Rivera in 1929 and their life together was a tumultous one.
Her work has been described as surrealist, but I think it is the unvarnished depiction of her real life pain and struggle that makes her work so interesting and relatable. We may not have all been through the kind of physical pain Kahlo experienced, but perhaps it is that we can all certainly relate to her emotional pain and the need to express it on canvas.
Be sure to check out the official Frida Kahlo website. A beautifully designed site full of interesting information about the artist.