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"Why should I need legs when I have wings to fly?" - Frida Kahlo on the brink of life and death.


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When the revolution was raging in the streets and Indian folk art was experiencing its revival, Frida was growing up in the town of Coyoacan. Her life was marked by drama from the very beginning. The six-year-old girl contracted Heine-Medina disease, which led to degenerative changes in her left leg. Excluded because of her disability, which caused unimaginable physical as well as mental pain, she suffered. She felt inferior and isolated from the world. However, this was only the beginning of real suffering


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A few weeks before her eighteenth birthday, Frida suffered an accident that defined her entire later life. The girl and her friend were riding a bus, at one point they heard a bang, and darkness stood before their eyes. A tram coming from the side hit the bus. The fact that she survived is considered as a miracle. Frida said it "shattered her to pieces," definitely not an exaggeration. Her spine was broken in 3 places, her hip bone shattered, her femoral neck broken, her ribs broken, her shoulder dislocated, her leg broken in 11 places, the bones of her right foot crushed and displaced, her abdomen and uterus pierced by a steel railing. Kahlo underwent more than thirty surgical operations. This blow from fate ignited her art. Painting and drawing became her entire life. The easel and brush were her escape. 


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 "For many years, my father kept a box of oil paints and some brushes in an old vase and a palette in the corner of his small photography studio [...]. Ever since I was a little girl, I squinted in the direction of the paint box."  

  

- The Great Collection of Famous Painters. Frida Kahlo, Poznan 2007, p.10.   

 

Trapped in her own bed, Frida began to create her art. A canopy hung over her bed, in the central part of which was a mirror. It was mounted there by the artist's mother so that the artist could see her reflection and create self-portraits. However, the main reason for the development of Frida's painting, was an infatuation with a certain man....

 

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When the budding artist began to walk again, she showed up at the studio of Diego Riviera - a well-known frescoes artist throughout Mexico. Frida showed him her works and said:  

 "I didn't come to hear compliments. I want to know the honest opinion of a serious person. I am neither an amateur not an art expert. I am simply a woman who has to work to live."   

  

- J.M.G. Le Clezio, Diego and Frida, op. cit. p. 68.   

 

With this statement she made it clear, to Diego, more than twice her age, that art was not just a passion for her but her whole life. An air, a realm that gives meaning to her existence. Frida did not see herself as a fully formed artist, she yearned for growth and sought a mentor to point her in the right direction. Diego was crazy about the young artist, whose originality and courage he sincerely admired. Frida, for her part, most desired to become his wife and bear him children. On August 21, 1929, the painter's dream came true, she married her beloved Diego. Little did she know then that loving him would be the greatest challenge of her life. Once she loved him and once she hated him. Her head and heart were full of contradictions.


source: Pinterest


In her diary she wrote:   


Diego, the beginning  

Diego, the builder  

Diego, my child  

Diego, my fiancé  

Diego, the painter  

Diego, my lover  

Diego, my husband  

Diego, my friend  

Diego, my mother  

Diego, my father  

Diego, my son  

Diego, me  

Diego, the universe."  

  

- excerpt from Frida's diary. Quoted in: J.M.G. Le Clezio, Diego and Frida, op. cit. p. 166.  

  

With this entry she professed her love and devotion to him. However, moments later she claimed:  


"I have experienced two accidents in my life. One was the bus that broke me, the other was Diego. Diego was the worse one."   

  

- excerpt from Frida's diary, quoted in ibid, p.166 

 

Private life has a very strong influence on what the artist creates. So it's not surprising to see subtlety intertwined with anguish and love with frustration in her paintings. Frida's mother hardly had a good relationship with her daughter. When Frida was lying in the hospital, her mother did not visit her even once. She also didn’t come to her wedding. Despite the lack of ties with her own mother, Frida's biggest dream was to become a mother. She became pregnant several times, but each ended in the loss of her child. One of the miscarriages occurred on a trip to the American city of Detroit. This situation was depicted by the artist in her painting "Henry Ford Hospital." We can see Frida lying on a hospital bed, she is covered with blood. Out of her abdomen come red threads, on the ends of which are tied: pelvic bones, a female torso, a fetus, a snail, an orchid and a specific metal tool (probably medical).     


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The artist also struggled with an STD that may have contributed to her problems having a child. Frida suspected that she had been infected by her husband, who was known for his promiscuous lifestyle. True, Frida also had her own lovers, but she was far from the lifestyle her husband led. The woman tolerated her husband's repeated infidelities, but something inside her snapped when she lay in the hospital after another miscarriage and learned that her husband had cheated on her with her younger sister Christina. Both Frida and Diego tried to fill the void in their hearts through art. Diego was born as one of twin brothers. Not more than a year and a half after his birth, his brother suddenly died, which turned into a great unhealed trauma.

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Frida, on the other hand, had an imaginary twin sister as a child, who she claimed was a better version of her. She was a strong and healthy girl. Frida portrays her in the painting "Two Fridas." 


"The Siamese sisters sit side by side, holding hands, and their visible hearts are connected by a common vein."   

- Ibid, p.45  


source: Pinterest

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One of the most famous artist couples wanted love and cohesion, but they placed special emphasis on independence. To preserve their space, they built a Bauhaus-style house, created from two cubes connected by a special footbridge, so that they could live together, but nevertheless separately. The couple divorced, but a few years later, they decided to give each other another chance and married again. This time they were already together until Frida's death.  


source: Pinterest


Frida, or rather Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderon, died in her own home a week after her forty-seventh birthday. Frida is remembered as an extravagant and provocative artist. A relentless and brave woman, she was always outspoken about life and art. The artist was a collection of contrasts. On the one hand, a woman who knew her worth, on the other, a quiet crumbler hiding behind masks and costumes. Or were there really two Fridas? 


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