July 6th of 110 years ago, Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón was born.
Over time she dropped the “e” from the name her German father gave her, and today Frida Kahlo is the most famous woman artist of all times, recognized, loved by millions around the world; an inspirations to many of us.
Not tall (5’2” or 158 cm), not a classical beauty, her walk impaired by polio at the age of 6; she created her own unique image, staged herself in such a way that today she is recognized not only as an artist but as a fashion icon as well.
Already as a teenager she claimed to be born in 1910, the year of the Mexican revolution, and practically making herself the youngest of her 3 sisters including Cristina, her younger and prettier sister.
At the age of 25 she painted one of her most shocking paintings: “My Birth”, a small format oil on metal, painted in retablo-style.
This small painting shows how Frida used the retablo (or votive) style to bring her powerful message across. Votive paintings have usually three elements:
Some believe that the imagery of “My Birth” is inspired by an Aztec sculpture Frida had at home representing Tlazolteotl, the Goddess of fertility and midwives, the mother of the Warrior.
“My Birth” belongs to the pop star Madonna who claims that those who do not like this painting are not her friends.
Happy Birthday Frida, we love this and the rest of your paintings!
About the photo:
Right: #34: Frida Kahlo, My Birth, 1932,
Oil on metal, 30,5 x 35 cm, Original is in the Private Collection of Madonna.
Licensed replica by ©Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2008.
Left: Copy of Tlazolteotl – Aztec Goddess of Fertility and Midwives.
60 years ago on July 13th, in the first hours of the morning when everyone was sleeping in the Blue House, Frida Kahlo died in her Casa Azul in Coyoacán, Mexico City.
It seems that shortly before her death she prepared herself to let go: a few days before Frida died she gave Diego a ring as a gift for their 25th wedding anniversary. When Diego asked why she was giving it to him so early instead of waiting for the anniversary date of August 21st, Frida replied "because I feel I am going to leave you very soon".
Six days before dying she managed to get up from her bed and write on a painting with watermelons: “Frida Kahlo, Coyoacán 1954 Mexico” and the iconic “Viva la Vida”.
This is the last painting Frida signed and this is the last message she wanted us to have: VIVA LA VIDA!
No matter how arduous and painful life can be, Frida message is a celebration of life, indeed she lived her life to the fullest, never letting the circumstances have the best of her. Once she wrote: “the meaning of life is to live”, and she just did that against all odds.
Her last entry in her diary was:
“Espero alegre la salida y espero no volver jamás",
I hope the exit is joyful and I hope never to return - Frida.
Painting left: #135: Frida Kahlo, Self Portrait with Stalin, 1954, Oil on masonite, 59 x 39 cm,
Painting right: #137: Frida Kahlo, Viva la Vida, Watermelons, 1954, Oil on masonite, 59,5 x 50,8 cm. Licensed replica by ©Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2008.
Photo taken in the Kunstmuseum Gehrke-Remund, Baden-Baden, Germany
Photo: (c) Kunstmuseum Gehrke-Remund, Germany