Frida Kahlo was one of the most influential Mexican artists of the 20 th century; her artwork has been revolutionary to modern art. Significant biographical and historical incidents influenced the artwork of Frida Kahlo throughout her artistic career. Kahlo’s life was reflected through her artwork; her body of work was the novel of her life. The artist’s work was greatly influenced by her bus accident which handicapped her for life. Kahlo had strong ties to her Mexican heritage; the Mexican Revolution influenced many of her self-portraits. She was influenced by the indigenous cultures of Mexico and Europe. The artist incorporated realism, symbolism, and surrealism into her artwork. Frida’s politics were a major influence on her work. At times she was a socialist, a communist, and a revolutionary. Lastly, the marriage to her husband, Diego Rivera, also affected her artwork. Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón was born on July 6, 1907 in the house of her parents, La Casa Azul, in Coyoacán, Mexico. Frida stated that she was born in 1910; she sought after to a connection to the Mexican Revolution, expressing her political stronghold. Her father was Guillermo Kahlo and mother Matilde Calderon y Gonzalez. Frida had four sisters, also two older half sisters from her father’s previous marriage. At the age of six, Frida was diagnosed with polio which left her right leg thinner than her left. She attended Prepatoria of Mexico, one of the best schools in Mexico. Frida received basic artistic training studying her father's photography studio, but mostly she was a self-taught artist. On September 17, 1925, she was involved in a trolley accident that injured her so severely that she required three dozen operations. This accident would forever impact her life and art (artchive.com). While in physical therapy from the trauma, Frida began to paint. Her dream of being a doctor faded away, as she turned to art. Due to her ongoing medical problems, her self-portraits commonly portrayed Frida in physical agony. Frida married Diego Rivera, a famous muralist, in 1929. Frida and Diego’s relationship was strained by both of their infidelities. The couple separated in 1939 but remarried in 1940. Frida started to sell her paintings and become a newly renowned artist in Mexico. She held art exhibitions in Europe and throughout the U.S. (pbs.org). Her works sent made strong political statements, as which made them highly visible. After suffering from poor health for years as of her accident, Frida Kahlo died on July 13, 1954,at the age of 47, in Coyoacán, Mexico.
Frida always expressed in her diary the love she had for her father. She wrote in her diary that her mother was kind and intelligent but also cruel at the same time (Kettenmann 9). In My Nurse and I, Frida illustrated as a baby, had to be breast fed by a nurse and not by her mother. This is a significant event since it prevented Frida and her mother from forming a mother/daughter bond, a broken bond that lasted a lifetime. Frida used symbolism in My Nurse and I, she represented her nurse as the mother she never had. She never felt her mother was supportive of her. When Frida contrapted polio her father took care of her during a month of frail state (fridakahlofans.com).When Frida married Diego her mother was against it while her father supported her and knew Diego could provide for his daughter. Kahlo’s relationship with her parents also affected her art.
Frida’s art was heavily impacted by the trolley accident on September 17, 1925 when she was eighteen. This accident provided Frida’s inspiration for painting. Frida painted Self-Portrait in a Velvet Dress, Fig 1, her first serious work and the first of many self-portraits to come. She painted it for her boyfriend, Alejandro Gómez Arias, as a gift. The aristocratic pretense echoes Frida's interest in the paintings of the Italian Renaissance period. Frida appears to be a melancholy aristocrat in the setting of waves in...
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