Happy Birthday Blog: Frida Kahlo

Happy Birthday Blog: Frida Kahlo

Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón

Born: July 6, 1907

Coyoacán, Mexico City, Mexico

Known For: Painter and Political Activist

Though Frida Kahlo is now one of the most well-known women painters, that wasn’t always the case. She gained fame within the art community throughout her careers in the 1930s and 1940s – having exhibitions in Paris and the US. However, this limited attention was not enough to overcome the fame of her husband Diego Rivera. For most of her life, Kahlo was known more for her marriage than her body of work.

When feminist scholars and art historians rediscovered Kahlo in the 1970s, she grew in popularity and public knowledge. One of the most recognizable faces of art history, unlike most of our Birthday Blogs, it is not difficult to find information about Kahlo – her life and work. An open bisexual and communist, Kahlo has become a symbol for feminism and LGBTQ+ activism. Her work continues to resonate with art lovers, and as recently as this past February the Brooklyn Museum held the largest exhibit of Kahlo’s work in the US for the past decade.

What makes Kahlo such a dynamic figure is perhaps her self-portraits. She contracted polio as a young child, and suffered severe and life-long repercussions from injuries sustained in a bus accident in 1925. She often painted about her disabilities, and contemporary retrospectives now include her decorated prosthetics and corsets. Of mixed German and Mestiza descent, Kahlo’s work shows a fascination with Mexican folk culture and includes elements of pre-Columbian history and her Catholic faith. Kahlo was heavily influenced by the Mexicanidad movement – which focused on a romanticized nationalism that developed after the revolution.

Everything about her aesthetic was intentional, from her style of dress, to her mix of realism and surrealistic imagery. She often used her paintings to depict her pain and joy – her bisexuality and disabilities. Now accepted as one of the most influential painters of the 20th century, Kahlo’s legacy has long outlived her career.

For her contribution to the art landscape and feminist discourses, The Good Doctors salute her!

You can learn more about her here.

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