Who’s Frida Kahlo? A Proud Mexican Artist.

Frida Kahlo – Love, Art & Inspiration

Introduction

Who’s Frida Khalo? 

Frida Kahlo was a Mexican artist who lived passionately and unapologetically with disability. These included chronic pain and a crippled leg due to a motorized vehicle accident she endured in her teens.

Still, she lived an accomplished life. 

Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo Calderon was born in the Blue House in Coyoacan, Mexico on July 6th, 1907.

As a result of her condition, she was often prescribed bed rest and endured prolonged periods of isolation in her bedroom. 

It was here that she painted many of her masterful works of art with the support of her family and beloved Diego Rivera.

Frida married the love of her life,  Diego Rivera, on August 21, 1929, when she was only 22 years old. He was 20 years her senior and almost twice as heavy as she, making them quite the striking couple. (He weighed around 300lbs, whereas she was about 98lbs) (worldhistoryproject.org)

She died the night of July 2nd, 1954 at the age of 47 in the Blue House. The cause, according to her death certificate, was pulmonary thrombosis.

My Introduction To Frida Khalo

I first discovered Frida’s work after watching the 2002 movie Frida, with Salma Hayek. (I highly recommend it, by the way.) It’s cinematic, thoughtful, beautiful, and provocative.

Because of my love for this movie, I began studying Frida’s art, which I initially found overwhelming in its imagery.

The more I study it, though, the more I love it because of its vulnerability and because of the emotions it evokes within. 

As an artist, studying Frida’s work and her life’s story has awoken in me a need to create pieces that resonate and inspire others with a sense of joy and a love for life. 

That is the purpose of this post, which will be updated periodically. 

Here, I’ll cover interesting facts and highlights of Frida’s life as well as how she’s inspired my design process as I create a Frida-inspired jewelry collection.

If you’re interested in learning a little bit about Frida Kahlo, the 2002 movie directed by Julie Taymor is a GREAT intro. #fridamovie #JulieTaymor #fridakahloinspired #fridakahlolovers
Frida (2002) Movie Directed by Julie Taymor

CONTENTS

References

*Please note that all the books in this slide, and links included throughout the blog marked with an asterisks (*) , direct you to affiliate links where I make a small commission if you place an order. 

Frida Kahlo's Childhood And Creating A Frida-Inspired Jewelry Collection (Video)

Not fragile like a flower. Fragile like a bomb.

A detailed book relating to Frida’s fashion, home, paintings and more. #fridakahlostyle #fridakahlofashion #fridakahloinspiration
Frida Kahlo, Making Herself Up
This is a real photo of Frida Kahlo taken by Guillermo Kahlo in 1911. #fridakahlo #fridaphoto #fridakahlofans #fridakahlolife
Real Frida Kahlo Childhood Photo - Age 4, 1911

When's Frida Kahlo’s Birthday?

Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo Calderon was born in the Blue House in Coyocan, Mexico, on July 6th, 1910.

So she claimed.

Raquel Tibol, a renowned Mexican art critic and art historian, met and interviewed Frida Kahlo the year before Frida Kahlo’s death. Out of this incredible opportunity, Tibol wrote a fantastic book, which Elinor Randall translated, Frida Kahlo: An open life.

Here she writes:

Who’s Frida Kahlo? She was a talented and beloved artist who lived with great pain due to a crippling accident she endured as a child. Frida Kahlo loved and married Diego Rivera. She was born and passed away in the Blue House. #fridakahlo #vivalavida #longlivefrida #fridafans #fridalove
Blue House – Casa Azul – Frida & Diego Vivieron En Esta Casa

“…because of the arrival in Mexico in 1981 of two television professionals from the Federal Republic of Germany: the librettist Gislind Nabakowsky and the cameraman Peter Nicolay, who were making a half-hour film to be shown in the West German television. Wanting this film to show something new, I asked the writer Marco Antonio Campos to accompany the German filmmakers, along with Marco Antonio’s godmother, Isabel Campos, Frida’s intimate friend and also godmother to the not-yet-born Leonardo; she and Frida had gone to primary school together in Coyoacan, and they had a permanent and very confidential relationship. In the course of the interview, Isabel Campos told the Germans that the date of 1910 was incorrect, because Frida was a year younger than she, and she was born in 1906. It was enough to consult Frida’s birth certificate to prove that Isabel was right.”(page 89)

Frida Kahlo: An open life, Page 89
When is Frida Kahlo’s birthday? Isabel Campos clarified to a set of television producers that Frida was not born in 1910. This is a photo of Cristina Kahlo, Isabel Campos, & Frida Kahlo. #fridakahlo #fridakahlofans #fridakahlolove #artistamexicana
Frida Kahlo ((R) Age 12), with sister Cristina (L) and best friend, Isabel Campos (Center) Circa 1919

So why did Frida change her birthday? 

To feel younger & prettier? No. Not at all.

Passionate & unapologetic, it’s speculated that she did so to align herself with the ideas of liberation and reform that encompassed the Mexican Revolution, which began in 1910.

Who’s Frida Kahlo? She was a proud Mexican artist who lived passionately and unapologetically. #fridakahlofans #fridakahlolove #artistamexicana
Frida Kahlo outside of Diego Rivera’s Studio. (C. 1929. Photo by Guillermo Davila.)
Guillermo Kahlo was a famous photographer in Mexico. As a result of his notoriety, he was commissioned by Porfirio Diaz, the Mexican President at the time, to photograph all key national monuments. #guillermokahlo #fridakahlo #fridakahlofans #fridakahlolove
Guillermo Kahlo, Photographer & Frida Kahlo's Father (Self Portrait)

Who’s Frida Kahlo’s Father? Carl Wilhelm Kahlo, a.k.a. Guillermo Kahlo

Carl Wilhelm Kahlo was born on October 26th, 1871, in Germany.

Enthusiastically, Carl Kahlo moved to Mexico in 1891 at the age of 19 with little more than the clothes he wore.

Initially, he worked as an accountant. Within a short timeframe, he secured enough financial and social security to change his first name to “Guillermo.”

By 1894, he married his first wife, a Mexican woman who died while giving birth to her second daughter.

On the evening of her death, he met his second wife, Frida’s mother, Matilde Calderon, a devout & pious Catholic.

A portrait of Frida Kahlo’s parents on their wedding day in 1898 – 12 years before Frida’s birth. #fridakahlolove #friakahlo #fridakahlofans #fridakahloinspiration
A photo of Frida Kahlo’s mother, Matilde Calderon, in her golden years. #fridakahlo #fridakahlofans #matildecalderon #foreverfrida

Per Matilde’s request, Guillermo Kahlo sent his two daughters from his first marriage to a convent, and he also switched his occupation to that of a photographer. The same occupation as Matilde’s father.

Of his career as a photographer, Rainer Huhle wrote an informative article titled More than Frida’s Father. Guillermo Kahlo as a pioneer of industrial and architectural photography in Mexico, where he explains how Guillermo flourished as a photographer.

He explains that as an immigrant, Guillermo was able to view his surroundings differently than most and he was able to capture them with a fresh perspective.

Guillermo Kahlo soon proved to have an eye for the masterful composition of architectural and interior photographs and quickly became one of the most sought-after photographers in modern Mexico.

He used a large-format camera which he could only carry through the city and county aided by an assistant – usually Frida. He used this camera to capture carefully composed scenes in long exposure shots, resulting in great depth of field.

In 1904, the government commissioned him to photograph all of the essential national monuments to mark the centenary of Mexican Independence in 1910.

Guillermo Kahlo – photographer & Frida Kahlo’s father. This is part of his portfolio of work. #guillermokahlo #fridakahlo #fridakahlofans #foreverfrida
Photos taken from the article: More than Frida’s Father. Guillermo Kahlo as a pioneer of industrial and architectural photography in Mexico by Rainer Huhle. #guillermokahlo #fridakahlo #fridakahlo🌹
Photos taken from the article: More than Frida’s Father. Guillermo Kahlo as a pioneer of industrial and architectural photography in Mexico by Rainer Huhle. #guillermokahlo #fridakahlo #fridakahlo🌹
Photos taken from the article: More than Frida’s Father. Guillermo Kahlo as a pioneer of industrial and architectural photography in Mexico by Rainer Huhle. #guillermokahlo #fridakahlo #fridakahlo🌹

Unfortunately for Guillermo Kahlo, Porfirio Diaz, the dictatorial President of Mexico who commissioned his work, was forced to resign in 1911, putting him and his family in financial strain.

In his last years, Diego Rivera would be of great assistance to him and his family as they continued to live in the Blue House.

Frida Kahlo led a very accomplished short life. She endured a lot of heartaches and physical pain, but still, she carried on. Her fighting spirit continues to inspire many around the world. #fridakahlofans #fridakahlo #fridakahlolove #fridakahlo❤️
Who’s Frida Kahlo? Doting Daughter. Mischievous Sister. Loyal Wife. Inspirational Mexican Artist

Frida Kahlo’s Childhood & Bout With Polio

Of all of Guillermo Kahlo’s daughters – he had a total of 6, 2 from his first marriage and four with Frida’s mother, Matilde – Frida was his favorite.

She was a lively cheeky child.

Of her, he would say, “Frida is my most intelligent daughter… She’s most like me.” (Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera by Isabel Alantara & Sandra Egnolff, page 9)

Sadly, Frida contracted polio at six years old, which led her to be bedridden for nine months in excruciating pain.

This was her first period in isolation due to medical reasons.

Polio is a disabling & life-threatening disease caused by the poliovirus. It spreads from person to person and can infect a person’s spinal cord, causing paralysis.

It was the poliovirus that left Frida’s right leg deformed.

Of this period of isolation, she recounts:

“I must have been about six years old when I started vividly picturing to myself a friendship with another girl of about my own age. I used to blow on the window of my room, which gave onto Allende Street, and draw a door on the pane. I imagined that I then ran, full of excited anticipation, out through this “door”, and crossed the vast “plain” which I saw in my mind’s eye stretching out before me until I reached the “Pinzon” (Finch) dairy. There I slipped through the “o” in Pizon and immediately plunged into the bowels of the earth, where the playmate of my dreams awaited me. I no longer remember her form and colouring but I do know that she was a lot of fun and laughed a great deal, soundlessly, of course. She was very nimble and could dance (…) When I returned to my window from my imaginary excursion, I came back through the “door”; then I rubbed it out quickly with my fingers to make it disappear…”

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera by Isabel Alantara & Sandra Egnolff, Page 10
Creating vintage-inspired jewelry, to me, means taking inspiration from beloved historical figures, their work, their style, and translating my findings into something artistic and wearable. In this post, I document my journey into creating a collection inspired by Frida Kahlo. #fridakahlojewelry #fridakahlostyle #artistamexicana #fridakahlo❤️Frida would love to wear. #fridakahlojewelry #fridakahlostyle #artistamexicana #fridakahlo❤️
My Journey into Creating a Frida Kahlo Inspired Jewelry Collection – Blog | Pictured Top Right – Blue House & Flower Brooches & Necklaces

Art begets art. Art begets art. Art begets art.

Conclusion

This is only part one of this post where I attempt to answer the question – Who’s Frida Kahlo? 

I will be diving deeper into her work, her relationship with Diego, her travels, and more at a later date.

Sign up to the Kaleidoscope Chronicle to be notified when I update this post. 

If you’d like a full list of all the resources used for this post, please click here. 

* If you know that any part of these excerpts is false, please let me know. You can reach me via email: lovealways@kaleidoscopesandpolkadots.com or via a direct message on Facebook or Instagram.

About The Author

Jessica Gibson
Jessica Gibson

Leading Lady of Kaleidoscopes & Polka Dots.

If you have any questions about this article, or anything at all, please reach out to me at lovealways@kaleidoscopesandpolkadots.com

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