*** FRIDA KAHLO ***
By: Natalie Pompos
BIOGRAPHY, INFLUENCES, MEDIA, TECHNIQUE, MOVEMENT, STYLE, SUBJECT MATTER
Frida Kahlo was born July 6, 1907 in Coyoacan, Mexico. She is one of the most famous Mexican painters in history. Kahlo is best regarded for her work specializing in self-portraits. Her style is characterized by its use of bright colours depicting a wide range of emotions; however, pain and passion are the most prevalent themes. Her work is greatly celebrated by feminists. This is a consequence of her emphasis on illustrating the female form. Overall, Kahlo’s work is viewed as being cohesive with traditional Mexican culture.
Her style is noted as part of the Surrealist Movement. This is predominately attributed to her works’ traditional imagery distorted with unrealistic features. For example, Kahlo’s work illustrates many disproportionate facial features. Colour and contrasting brush strokes also play a key role in her pieces to display a wide range of emotions.
Throughout Kahlo’s childhood she was illness ridden. As a child she contracted polio. In addition, at 18 years old, she suffered from a severe traffic accident that marred her with a host of medical tribulations. She had to spend over a year confined to a hospital bed. Throughout the year she recuperated from injuries debilitating her pelvis, shoulders, feet, back, and collar bone. Many of her works integrate ailments she endured and treatments she received. Painting helped Kahlo heal spiritually and mentally from the over 30 surgeries she received.
Kahlo’s paintings are known for their unique artistic style. She achieved her personal flair via the incorporation of various Mexican folk arts. When Kahlo was 22, she wed fellow artist Diego Rivera; several years later, they would be remarried. At the time, Rivera was popular in particular for his emerging mural works. The course of their marriages were of great emotional turbulence and upheaval. Kahlo claimed the two greatest accidents during her life involved the physical debilitation of her traffic accident, and on other hand, the emotional devastation her marriages brought upon her.
Kahlo’s career is documented through more than 200 of her drawings, sketches, and paintings; individually they reflect her personal tribulations physically, spiritually, and emotionally. 55 out of Kahlo’s total of 143 paintings are self-portraits. Her interest in self-portraits stemmed from her constant feelings of loneliness. Kahlo’s artwork is often referred to an autobiography of her life. Not only were Kahlo and Diego prolific figures in the artistic community but also within the Mexican Communist Party. Political views additionally influenced many of her works.
On July 13, 1954 in Coyoacan, Mexico, the place of her birth, Kahlo passed. In 1955, Rivera donated their home to the Mexican government. He desired their residence to facilitate as a museum so visitors and aspiring artists could appreciate the works she developed. Eventually her ashes were placed amongst her husband’s at the “Blue House.”
The years following Kahlo’s death led to immense leaps in her artworks notoriety and value. Currently, the selling of her work earns more than any other female artist.
21st CENTURY COMPARISON
David Macaluso is an excellent 21st Century comparison to Frida Kahlo. Many of his works focus on the depiction of portraits. His use of realistic imagery with disproportionate features is quite prevalent and directly correlates to Kahlo’s style. In addition, Macaluso places great emphasis on a wide range of vibrant colours. Many of Macaluso’s works are influenced or contain aspects relating to his political beliefs, personal tribulations, and/or successes; these are also unifying features between both artists.
I find Frida Kahlo’s artwork incredibly impressive. While her technical skill is noteworthy, the personal reflection many of her pieces are inspired by is truly remarkable. Kahlo’s integration of her Mexican heritage and traditional folk art provides an excellent cultural dimension to her style. In regards to the Surrealist Movement, I have become quite a fan. I appreciate the movement’s realistic imagery influences but flexibility to depict distorted and completely abstract aspects. I truly hope I have the opportunity view some of her work in person. The chance to see witness some of her husband’s work was incredible.