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Frida Kahlo

July 6, 1907 - July 13, 1954
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Frida Kahlo combined realism, surrealism, and fantasy with icons from her Mexican culture. Art historians classify Kahlo’s art as Magical Realism, a style of literature and art that depicts a realistic view of the modern world while also adding magical elements. Unlike surrealists, magical realists don’t probe the unconscious or dreams. Instead, they emphasize the actual strangeness of the real world.

In 1925, a bus accident left Kahlo with a lifetime of medical problems and pain. After the accident, her mother had a special easel made that let Frida paint while lying in bed. This is when her career as a serious artist began.

in June 1928, Kahlo got to know Diego Rivera, whom she had met briefly when he painted a mural at her school in 1922. Kahlo and Rivera soon became romantically involved, even though he was 20 years her senior and already had two common-law wives.

Kahlo and Rivera got married in a civil ceremony at the town hall of Coyoacán on August 21st, 1929. Her mother opposed the marriage, although her father approved, as Rivera was wealthy and able to support Kahlo who couldn’t work due to her injuries and needed expensive medical treatments.

Kahlo was influenced by a romantic nationalism that developed in Mexico after the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) and that focused on pride in Mexico’s indigenous roots. A pride in Mexican culture at the time tried to eliminate a mindset brought about by European colonialism that had resulted in Mexican culture somehow being considered inferior to European culture. Kahlo incorporated both Aztec themes and Mexican folk art techniques in many of her paintings, including lots of animals, the sun and the moon, plants and vegetation, and themes from mythology, in brightly-colored and highly-patterned compositions.

Read more about the life and art of Frida Kahlo here.

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