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Frida Kahlo Essay

2414 words - 10 pages

Pain is one of the senses that can change us as human beings. If you indulge in it can it become a part of you and shape your life. Can you really learn to live with pain? Will pain define you as a human being? Frida Kahlo’s life began and ended in pain. In between her pain she crated masterpieces that gave her suffering an artistic form and to this day that artwork that derived from her suffering continues to influence artists today.

Frida’s life began in Coyoacan Mexico on July 6,1907. During her lifetime Kahlo embarked on many hardships caused by illness, heartache, and love. She became known for her haunting self- portraits, radical politics, and that ...view middle of the document...

After viewing the paintings, Rivera remarked that he was most interested in the self-portrait. He told her to go home and paint another painting and he would come by and see it. After seeing the new painting Rivera told her to continue painting.

This was Frida's first self-portrait after the divorce from her husband Diego. In place of the feminine clothes seen in most of her self-portraits, Frida appears dressed in a large dark man's suit, probably one of Diego's. She has just cut off her long hair that Diego admired so much. In her left hand she holds a lock of her shorn hair like an emblem of her sacrifice. In her right hand, she holds the scissors with which she martyred her femininity. Strands of hair are everywhere as if they had a life of their own. Surrounded by the evidence of her act, she sits along in a vast expanse of uninhabited space that suggests the depth of her despair. The verse of a song painted across the top of the portrait points to the reason behind this act of self-mutilation: “They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my reality,” said Frida Kahlo describing her art work (Frida Kahlo n.d.)

Diego Rivera was a well known muralist in Mexico. While Frida was attending classes at the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria school, Diego was painting his mural "Creation" at the school's Amphitheatre. Frida would often go there to watch him paint and admire his work.

"See, if I loved you, it was for your hair, now you're bald, I don't love you any more.".

After the divorce, Frida decided to renounce the feminine image demanded of her. She cut off her hair, gave up her Tehuana costumes so liked by Diego and wore instead a man's suit. The only feminine attribute she retained was her earrings. This self-portrait seems to express her desire for the freedom and independence of a man.

Drawing on personal experiences, including her marriage, her miscarriages, and her numerous operations, Kahlo's works often are characterized by their stark portrayals of pain. Of her 143 paintings, 55 are self-portraits which often incorporate symbolic portrayals of physical and psychological wounds. She insisted, "I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality".

A picture such as The Broken Column seems to give us her pain as almost no other; her body stuck with nails, the pale tears on her cheeks, the expression of terrible courage. But we can see what a complicated language is being brought into being to transmit the emotion; the pain is expressed through a combination of realism, with the depiction of a steel corset that she had to wear, and surrealism, as her body is opened up to reveal a crumbling column instead of a spine.

The Two Fridas (1939) is probably one of her most famous works (Figure 3) as agreed by many scholars and critics. Kahlo’s paintings are generally related to her pain caused by Rivera and The Two Fridas (1939) is no different (Malkin 7). Malkin reasons...

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