“The painter, the true painter, will be he who can wring from contemporary life its epic aspect and make us see and understand, with color or in drawing, how great and poetic we are in our cravats and our polished boots.” -- Charles Baudelaire
Frida and Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo. 1931.
Frida Kahlo is one of Mexico’s most famous and beloved painters, known for her overwhelmingly emotional art with ancient Aztec and colonial themes. Her powerful self-portraits are unabashedly vulnerable and sometimes, I think, even painful to look at. She was a very resilient woman and artist, but she went through some pretty awful times in her life, including serious spine surgery. She was married to the famous Mexican muralist painter pictured here, Diego Rivera, but he was not the most faithful guy in the world…one of the things I like about Frida, though, is how independent she was. Here she looks very traditional, but just because she had an interest in traditions didn’t mean she was conservative by any means. After her marriage with Diego failed (he cheated on her with her own sister!), she went on to become a well-known painter in her own lifetime, and on her own terms, and do awesome things like travel abroad and be fabulous and walk around in her studio naked because she could.
Here is one of my favorite works by her, Las Dos Fridas (the Two Fridas):
Some of her paintings show an almost morbid interest in mutilation—55 of her paintings involve self-harm in some manner.
Anyway, some of her contemporaries considered her a Surrealist—a lot of her work does have strong dream-like themes, and she often seems rather detached from reality in her portraits—but she only said, “They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.”