Frida Kahlo - Inductee

1907 - 1954

As a child Frida Kahlo was deeply affected by the armed struggles she witnessed on the streets of Mexico City; so much so that later in her life she would claim 1910 – the official start of the Mexican Revolution – as the year of her birth. Kahlo contracted polio at age six and suffered from spina bifida. Plagued with health problems throughout her life, she sustained horrifying injuries when a bus she was riding in collided with a trolley car. After the accident confined her to a full-body cast, Kahlo began to paint. Her work – characterized by its stark portrayal of both psychological and physical pain – incorporated 19th-Century Mexican portraiture, elements of Mexican pop culture and pre-Columbian iconography, and was often done on sheet metal rather than canvas. Nearly one-third of her paintings are self-portraits for, as Kahlo once said, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best." Against her mother’s wishes, in 1929 Kahlo began a tempestuous marriage to Mexican painter, Diego Rivera, who recognized her talent early on, though for much of her career she would remain in his shadow. Defying convention, she flaunted numerous extramarital affairs – relationships complicated by Rivera’s own friendships with some of her paramours, most notably Leon Trotsky, Josephine Baker, and artists Isamu Noguchi and Georgia O’Keeffe. By the 1950’s her health issues became nearly all-consuming – culminating with the amputation of her right leg in 1953. During her hospitalization she contracted bronchial pneumonia and died a week after her forty-seventh birthday from a pulmonary embolism. Kahlo’s idiosyncratic work was not widely recognized until decades after her death as part of the Modern Mexican Art movement. Her ancestral home, Casa Azul ("Blue House") in Coyoacán, Mexico City, is now a popular museum and tourist destination. Decades after her death, Frida Kahlo remains one of the most intriguing and beloved artists of the 20th Century. On June 21, 2001, she became the first Latin American woman to be honored with a U.S. postage stamp.

Lesson Plans
Frida Kahlo Bronze Memorial

Plaque Sponsor

Jan Croatt and Winston; The Highfield Group

Demography

Gender Female

Sexual Orientation Bisexual

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Latinx

Nations Affiliated Mexico United States France

Era/Epoch Mexican Miracle (1946-1970) Mexican Revolution (1910-1946)

Field(s) of Contribution

Art

Education

Politics

Commemorations & Honors

Frida's Home La Casa Azul in Coyoacán Converted into a Museum (1958)

Park Renamed Parque Frida Kahlo in Coyoacán (1985)

First Hispanic Woman Honored With U.S. Commemorative Postage Stamp (2001)

Bank of Mexico Released New MXN$ 500-Peso Note (2010)

Google Doodle Commemorating Kahlo's 103rd Birthday (2010)

Inaugural San Francisco Rainbow Honor Walk Honoree (2014)

San Francisco Board of Supervisors Unanimously Voted to Rename Phelan Avenue to Frida Kahlo Way (2018)

Authorship

Original Biography Author
Victor Salvo and Owen Keehnen
Biography Edited By
Victor Salvo and Owen Keehnen
Biography Vetted, Edited, and Certified By
Cesareo Moreno
National Museum of Mexican Art
Image Rights Usage Granted By
Courtesy of Nickolas Muray Studios
Image Source for Bronze Casting
Courtesy of Nickolas Muray Studios
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell