Frida Kahlo’s life was one marked by extreme suffering, extremeheroism, and extreme genius. Stricken with polio as a child thennearly crippled in a bus accident at the age of eighteen, Kahlo defiedthe odds not only by learnng to walk again (twice) but by taking theworld by storm with her unique artistic vision.
Frida Kahlo was born July 6, 1907 near Mexico City. However, shealways claimed to be born in the year of the Mexican Revolution, 1910,in order to link her own birth to that of modern Mexico. It was justone of the many half-truths Kahlo told about her life, some say, inorder to create a myth through which she would always be remembered.
The desire to be remembered was always a central theme of Kahlo’s art,as reflected in the many self-portraits she painted (the images forwhich she is best known). Once she embroidered a pillow for herhusband, the muralist Diego Rivera, which read, “Remember me, mylove.”
Kahlo’s obsession with mortality is no mystery as illness, severe painand the threat of death repeatedly imposed themselves on her younglife. At age six, Kahlo contracted polio and had to spend 9 monthsconfined to her room. During that time, she created an imaginaryfriend who would later be reflected in a painting called “The TwoFridas.” Explaining the painting in her diary she wrote, “Iexperienced intensely an imaginary friendship with a little girl moreor less the same age as me … I followed her in all her movements andwhile she danced, I told her my secret problems.”Once over the polio, Kahlo seemed determined to live life to thefullest. She became a tomboy at school and the le…
…e coupledid divorce, in 1939, they reunited in less than a year. For all theirtroubles, they remained one another’s greatest loves and greatestfans.
That same year Kahlo suffered another blow. Her right leg had to beamputated below the knee due to a gangrene infection. On July 13,1954, at the age of 47, Frida Kahlo died. The cause was neverofficially determined. The last entry in Kahlo’s diary read, “I hopethe leaving is joyful and I hope never to return.”
Little known outside of the art world until the 1990’s, Frida Kahlohas recently become a cultural icon. Numerous books and articles havebeen written about her. She has been the subject of threedocumentaries, and a feature film about her life was released October25, 2002. For a woman who wished to be remembered, it seems, her wishhas come true.