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Things You Never Knew About Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo was more than just meets the brows. The Mexican artist had a life full of pain, romance and above all, powerful artistic talent. But, there’s a few things you might not have known…

  • Born with the name Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón, she only changed her around 1935 and changed it to Frieda which comes from the German word for ‘peace’, Friede.
  • As a young child she suffered from polio which caused her right leg to appear much thinner than her left and it would remain that way for the rest of her life. She disguised her impairment by wearing her trademark long, colourful skirts.
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Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird
  • The Louvre museum, in Pairs, bought her painting ‘The Frame’ and it became the first piece of art by a Mexican artist to be bought by the internationally renowned museum.
  • When she was 15 she was involved in a life-altering bus accident, leaving her with a broken spinal column, collarbone, ribs, pelvis, 11 fractures in her right leg, her right foot was dislocated and crushed, and her shoulder was out of joint.  In the course of her life she would undergo 30 operations. The consequence of all this was chronic pain. She painted The Broken Column as a memoir of her pain.
  • From a young age she admired the work of Diego Rivera and the pair eventually married after their initial meeting in 1927. Their coming together often referred to as the ‘Elephant and Dove’ due to their difference in size.
  • Kahlo was bisexual and both her and her husband Diego had multiple affairs during the length of their two marriages (divorcing and remarrying in the space of a year).

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    The Broken Column
  • Frida was well-loved around the world. She traveled to France, she was often in the company of Pablo Picasso, and she even appeared on the cover of French Vogue. In 1953 Frida was to exhibit her first solo show in Mexico.  Her health was in decline at the time, and against doctors advise, she attended the exhibition. Mere minutes after guests entered the gallery, Kahlo collapsed and was taken to hospital on a stretcher.
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French Vogue, 1938
  • Soon after that infamous exhibition Frida suffered a gangrene infection resulting in her right leg being amputated below the knee. This addition to her already persistent pain led her to become suicidal. She attempted her own life on several occasions and finally on the 3rd of July 1954 Frida passed away ( cause of death remaining unknown but suicide is suspected).
  • Her last diary entry read as follows, “I hope exit is joyful and I hope never to come back.”

 

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