Frida Kahlo: painter symbol of the feminist movement

Frida Kahlo

Although not seen until relatively recently, art history is replete with great women who had to fight a male-dominated society to gain a foothold as artists. They marked a before and after both in the history of art and in the social vision of equality between men and women.

If there is any famous painter in the history of the 20th century, it is undoubtedly Frida Kahlo (1907-1954). Born in Mexico, she is considered one of the main icons of Mexican art. We are going to see some curious things about his life.

His dedication to painting was marked by a fatal accident

She had polio when she was a child, which made one leg much thinner than the other. Due to this, he dedicated a large part of his free childhood time to sports, to try to improve his condition. Later, while studying in high school to become a doctor, he spent hours in an engraving and printing workshop, owned by a friend of his father’s. It was there that it was seen that he had a special talent for art, when drawing copies of engravings that came to the workshop. His greatest dedication to painting came after the fatal accident that marked his life: the bus in which he was traveling was hit by a tram, leaving his body truly destroyed in many parts. For this reason, he spent a large part of his life in bed and had to undergo some 32 operations. Before so long without being able to move, he devoted himself fully to painting.

His paintings, feminist symbols

Frida Self Portrait

If there is something in Frida’s paintings, it is a great sensitivity, reflecting the deep suffering she went through. His paintings are literally his life biography, highlighting cruelty, grief and reality. In most of them she paints herself, with typical Mexican indigenous clothing. It is considered a feminist symbol, since we see in the portraits a Frida openly and doing what she wants, something unusual in women of the time. It also reflects sexist violence in many paintings, serving as a complaint. In addition, he creates his own personal brand by refusing to pluck his eyebrows and mustache, as well as to drink beer.

It became a myth after appearing in the first color photographs

Frida was photographed by Hungarian photographer Nickolas Muray, one of the first to introduce color photography to the United States. Her peculiar physical appearance and her colorful dresses and beads, along with her great works, made Frida an icon, a symbol of Mexican culture.

She did not consider him to do surreal works

Surrealism Frida

Surrealism reflects that dream that becomes reality and is free from any conscious association (we have Dalí as the best example). Expressionism is characterized precisely by the great expressiveness of the paintings (such as those by Van Gogh that we saw in this previous post). Frida Kahlo’s paintings are considered surreal with a point of expressionism. Works full of metaphors and elements of folklore and popular art from his country (these are elements of very vibrant colors), as well as self-portraits. It shows many fantastic images mixed with the degradation that her body suffered after the accident, which makes us know how the artist feels when she sees herself, when associating these surreal images. Although she herself said that her works were not surreal, but rather reflected the cruel reality.

She has created a lot of merchandising of herself

Few are the artists who have generated such a quantity of commercial products as Frida Kahlo. All kinds of products for the home and stationery, clothing and a long etcetera. And it is that Frida continues to be an icon of the feminist struggle today.

Frida has been and continues to be a great model of strength for anyone who has gone through bad times.

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