A Portrait of Frida Kahlo

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Running Head: A PORTRAIT OF FRIDA KAHLO

A Portrait of Frida Kahlo

INTRODUCTION: Frida Kahlo
This paper explores the life and art works of Mexican Painter Frida Kahlo. Her work was very significant because it was influenced by the indigenous Mexican culture. Frida suffered a tragic accident at the age of 18 that changed the course of her life forever. After the streetcar accident in 1925, Frida was left disabled and started to paint during her recovery. She became the most celebrated female painter of all time. It is believed that her paintings were influenced by her husband Naturalist Diego Rivera. Many of Frida’s self-portrait paintings captured a life filled with pain and suffering. Frida Kahlo was considered a Surrealist artist. However, she denied being a true Surrealist and did not like to be compared to them. In order to determine what influences her paintings it was necessary to ask the following main question and sub-questions:

Main Research Question
Why are Frida Kahlo’s paintings full pain and suffering?
Research Sub-questions
1. How pain and suffering influenced Frida’s art work?
2. Were Frida’s paintings the result of a solitary life?
3. How does Frida portray the Mexican culture in her paintings?

Why are Frida Kahlo’s paintings full pain and suffering?
Mexican painter Frida Kahlo was born in Mexico in 1907 from a German father and a Mexican mother of Spanish and Indian descendant. From early on Frida’s life was full of physical pain at the tender age of three she contracted polio and it affected mostly her right leg. Then at the age of 18 she suffered a terrible accident that forever changed her life. She was traveling by bus when it collided with a street car. Her spinal column was broken in three places in the lumbar region. Her collarbone was broken and her third and fourth ribs. Her right leg had eleven fractures and her right foot was dislocated and crushed. Her left shoulder was out of joint, her pelvis broken in three places. The steel handrail produced a deep abdominal wound, entering through the left hip and exiting through the genitals. Frida’s condition was so grave doctors didn’t believe they could save her. They thought she would die on the operating table. She convalesced for two years though she would never fully recover (Kettenmann, 2003). It seems this accident had a lot of influence on her paintings and the way she viewed life around her. The paint stayed with her all her life and therefore in order to keep herself occupied she began painting. It was ironic that at the most painful time in her life she discovered her talent for painting and drawing. It was in this grievous part of her life that she painted “the Broken Spine”, a self-portrait about the metal rods that were supporting her spine. Although Frida recovered from this terrible accident, all throughout her life she was constantly hospitalized for long periods of time due to relapsed. Frida Kahlo suffered the effects of the accident her whole life and was particularly pained by her inability to have children. Her arresting pictures, most of them small format self-portraits, communicated the burdens that weighed upon her whole life: her excruciating physical pain, and pain of being childless (Kettenmann, 2003). In 1929 Frida married Mexican mural Diego Rivera, her marriage was filled with love, unfaithfulness and suffering due to Diego’s womanizing. It was during her first year of marriage that she became pregnant however due to the bus accident she was forced to have an abortion. Her body was not able to carry a full term pregnancy. Frida’s life was full of pain due to Diego’s infidelity and in retaliation for his womanizing; she began a series of romantic relationships which included one with Russian revolutionary exiled leader Leon Trotsky. Both Frida and Diego were quickly angered therefore making their relationship a tumultuous one. After they were married, Frida discovered Rivera’s love...
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