We are continually captivated and inspired by the Mexican artist and style icon Frida Kahlo. Frida incorporated personal experiences, relationships, traditional Mexican culture, and political ideologies into her art, and is a representation of fearlessness and authenticity for many in marginalized groups.
Frida drew from the deepest emotional elements of her personal life – including her marriage, numerous operations, miscarriages and abortion, and her romantic relationships – to create an honest, self-examination within her art. It is possible that her relatability may be, in part, due to her refusal to fit into one category. She was a feminist, a communist, disabled, and gender fluid. At times, she used gender norms to convey a message, wearing traditional Mexican women’s clothing as a political statement. But she also challenged those norms from an early age. Frida’s father urged her to learn to box and play soccer to strengthen her legs after contracting polio when she was six. It’s been theorized that, because he had no sons, he encouraged her to explore ideas that defied feminine roles of the day, including wearing men’s clothing, as she did in a 1926 family portrait.
“Frida Kahlo (center) with her mother Matilde, sister Cristina, and other family members”, 1926. Photographed by Guillermo Kahlo.
While she eventually played up femininity in her clothing and hairstyles, she also exaggerated her now-famous monobrow and moustache. Husband Diego Rivera portrayed Frida as a masculine figure in The Arsenal from his 1928 mural Ballad of the Proletarian Revolution and, in an interview, referred to her as “la pintura mas pintos,” using both the feminine and masculine terms for painter. Kahlo’s marriage to Rivera was famously turbulent and both had numerous, often public, extramarital affairs; Frida reportedly had relationships with Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky, artist Isamu Noguchi, painter Georgia O’Keefe, actresses Dolores del Rio and Paulette Goddard, photographer Nikolas Muray, singer Chavela Vargas, and even famed nightclub performer Josephine Baker.
She was not conscious of the concept we now call intersectionality; she simply acknowledged that she was many things, and each of those things was essential to the whole of her being.
Discover more about Frida Kahlo in Frida’s Fiestas: Recipes and Reminiscences of Life with Frida Kahlo by Guadalupe Rivera and Marie-Pierre Colle and The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait by Carlos Fuentes.
Frida’s Fiestas: Recipes and Reminiscences of Life with Frida Kahlo by Guadalupe Rivera and Marie-Pierre Colle
The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait by Carlos Fuentes
Lead image: Frida’s Fiestas: Recipes and Reminiscences of Life with Frida Kahlo by Guadalupe Rivera and Marie-Pierre Colle
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