Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter who lived a relatively short and painful life. Her legacy has been described as, “A triumph of spirit in the face of adversity.” When she died she left behind around one hundred fifty paintings that helped change the way female artists were perceived by critics and the public at the time. Frida Kahlo mixed the styles of indigenous Mexican art, realism, symbolism and surrealism to create her unique masterpieces. The effects of her turbulent childhood on her artwork, her atypical relationship with fellow artist Diego Rivera, and her vivid and often shocking painting style paved the path for her to become one of Mexico’s most famous artists.
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She even became a member of a gang, Las Cachuchas, which was known for its pranks and clever members. Frida also decided at school that she wanted to pursue a career in the medical field. On September 17, 1925 Frida Kahlo and her boyfriend, Alejandro Arias, were taking a bus back to Coyoacan after a day of shopping. The bus they were riding collided with a trolley car. Frida’s body was mangled in the accident. Her injuries may have been worse because she had polio when she was younger. The handrail of the bus completely pierced her body. She had many fractures in her pelvis, spine, and left leg. Her collarbone and two of her ribs were broken, and her right foot was crushed. The handrail did enough damage to her uterus to severely handicap her reproductive ability.
One year after Frida Kahlo’s crippling accident she painted her first self portrait. She gave up her aspirations of medical school after the crash. She studied art and also took interest in politics. She joined the Young Communist League and the Mexican Communist Party. During this time befriended her future husband, Diego Rivera (Jones 35).
Diego Rivera was also a painter who was known for his murals. Kahlo and Rivera had already met when he was painting a mural for The National Preparatory School which Frida attended. At the time Kahlo was fifteen and Rivera was thirty-six. Years later they formed a relationship. He encouraged her artwork, and the couple married the next year on August 21, 1929. Diego and Frida had a rocky marriage. They had separate, but adjoining homes and studios in San Angel, Mexico. Diego was unfaithful and pursued actresses Paulette Goddard, Maria Felix, and Dolores del Rio. He also had an affair with Frida’s sister Cristina. Frida was quite aware of her husband’s infidelities. She once remarked, “Being the wife of Diego is the most marvelous thing in the world...I let him play matrimony with other women. Diego is not anybody’s husband and never will be, but he is a great comrade.” Kahlo responded to Diego’s affairs by having some of her own with both men and women. She has been linked to the sculptor Isamu Noguchi and Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky. Kahlo and Diego separated in 1935. Unexpectedly Kahlo and Rivera were not divorced for a long time. They re-married in 1940 even though the couple continued to lead largely separate lives. Despite the fact Rivera and Kahlo had a tumultuous marriage, they remained civil and business partners throughout their careers. (Jones 40-43)
Frida Kahlo’s paintings combined the styles of realism, symbolism, and surrealism with...