Celebrating Women’s History Month: Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo's life was marked by both personal and physical struggles, including a debilitating accident that left her with chronic pain and limited mobility. Despite these challenges, Kahlo refused to let them define her and instead persevered to become one of the most important and influential artists of the 20th century.
In the 1920s, Kahlo began painting in earnest, drawing on deeply personal themes such as her own physical suffering, identity and gender politics, and her Mexican heritage. Her work was groundbreaking at the time, incorporating elements of traditional Mexican art and culture, which had not been widely recognized in the art world before.
"Despite the harsh gender inequality of the 1900s, Kahlo was honest about being a woman. And that is what that puts her, even now, at the forefront of being a feminist. Never once did she hide, cower or expect to be shielded from the harsh realities of her life. She refused to alter her features."
Frida Kahlo, The Two Fridas (Las dos Fridas), 1939, oil on canvas, 67-11/16 x 67-11/16" (Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City)
However, Kahlo faced many obstacles during her career. She struggled to achieve commercial success during her lifetime, with many critics and dealers dismissing her work as too niche or obscure. But despite these setbacks, she continued to create and express herself through her paintings.
As Kahlo grew older, she faced new challenges. Continuing physical pain and multiple surgeries made it difficult for her to paint as much as she would have liked. But she remained determined to keep creating, even when it meant having to adjust her technique and work with smaller canvases.
One specific story from Kahlo's older years highlights her perseverance and ability to overcome adversity. In 1953, she was bedridden following several surgeries, unable to move or create as she wished. But she refused to let this setback defeat her. Instead, she transformed her bed into a makeshift studio, using a special easel that allowed her to paint while lying down. She also had a mirror installed above her bed so she could paint self-portraits, a subject that had become central to her work.
Despite the pain and limitations she faced, Kahlo created some of her most powerful and poignant works during this period. Her ability to adapt to her circumstances and continue creating despite the odds is a testament to her resilience and unwavering commitment to her art. Today, her legacy lives on as an inspiration to artists and individuals around the world who face their own challenges and trials.