Happy Birthday to Frida Kahlo who would have turned 112 years old today. Frida is undoubtedly the most famous Mexican artist ever to grace this planet. But her love and admiration does not reside only in Mexico. Frida is also perhaps the most renowned female artist ever to live. Unfortunately Frida's short lived life of 47 years is a far too common story within the art world.
Frida Kahlo was born on July 6, 1907 in Coyocoan, Mexico City, Mexico. She grew up in the family's home where was later referred as the Blue House or Casa Azul, which is now a historic house and art museum dedicated to the life and work of the Mexican artist.
Frida battled with poor health majority of her life. At age six she contracted polio and had to be bedridden for nine months. Then at age 15 Frida was involved in a horrible accident when the bus she was riding collided with a street car and Frida was seriously injured. A steel handrail impaled her through the hip. Her spine and pelvis were fractured and the accident really affected her health physically, mentally and physiologically.
Frida was injured so badly in the accident she had to stay in the Red Cross Hospital in Mexico City for several weeks. Once she returned home from the hospital she had to wear a full body cast for three months. To help pass time and cope with the pain she started painting and finished her first Self-Portrait the following year. Her parents encouraged her to continue painting and even made an custom easel specifically to allow her to paint in bed. They also provided her brushes and boxes of paints.
Frida Kahlo most famously said, "I paint myself because I am often alone and I am the subject I know best".
Frida was not afraid to embrace who she was as a person and outside of her famous works of art, her sense of 'self' is probably the reason she is extremely beloved and still celebrated to this day. She defied gender stereotypes and was unapologetic about it. In one instance she wore a suit in a family portrait that contrasted her mother and sisters who wore dresses. She also refused to alter her 'masculine' features, including her mono-brow and faint mustache and would exaggerate these features in her paintings.
She painted real women and real experiences and chose to deviate away from the traditional depictions of female beauty in most art. She instead chose to highlight the raw and authentic experiences that women face including; abortion, miscarriage, birth and breastfeeding.
She embraced her weirdness and was openly bisexual and encouraged others to embrace their weird side. Frida reveled in breaking the rules both in her life and her art and for that she will always be celebrated by woman, artist and people alike. Happy Birthday Frida and thank you for being 'You.'
“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me, too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.” -Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)