Frida Kahlo: An Open Book Essay

2089 words - 9 pages

Born the middle child to her family in 1907 to a country in political unrest, Frida Kahlo is a controversial and famous Mexican artist whose life experiences, although traumatic, were the driving force behind her art which has inspired feminists and contemporary artists for decades. On the outside, Mexico appeared to be an economically and socially prospering country. Crime rates had been lowered, railroads abound, and new factories being built. Leading from 1876-1911, Porfirio Diaz urbanized and industrialized Mexico as an elitist dictator. Under the ruse of a “President”, Diaz held regular elections that were controlled in every aspect by him. 1910 marked the beginnings of a revolution, ...view middle of the document...

At the age of nineteen Kahlo and her then-boyfriend, Alex Gómez Arias, were victims of a bus accident, which Kahlo later referred to as the “First Bad Accident” of her life. After a day wandering around Mexico City, Kahlo and Alex were ready to head home. Catching the crowded bus that would take them back, the couple took two seats in the back as the bus rushed through the busy streets. As their bus turned to cross, in front of them was an oncoming street trolley. Upon the point of impact Frida was thrown from the bus and the vehicle erupted into pieces as the vehicles collided. One of the iron rods from the handrail of the bus broke and went through Frida, going through her hip and out the other end of her pelvis. The accident resulted in her having to spend over a year of her life on bed rest and resulted in over 30 operations on her fragile, broken body. These operations caused her not only physical but emotional pain, and she was overcome with a deep, oppressive hatred for surgeons. (“Pain and Passion”, 60)
Before the bus accident Kahlo was an inspiring pre-med student who aspired to help the sick so they would not suffer, like she did. Kahlo’s injuries from the bus accident cost her fertility. Her feelings of physical strength and power lost, the accident left her weak and unable to do things for herself as she was accustomed. Although her tragic accident forced her to stay in bed for a year it also introduced her to self-portraits, which became her signature artistic medium and what she is most well known for. Frida began to paint, using a small easel given to her by her mother along with a mirror propped up on the easel and used her reflection as a subject.
In 1922, Kahlo was one of the few female students to be enrolled in the National Preparatory School. She was known by her peers to be a playful young woman who wore colorful, traditional Mexican clothing. She began dating Alex Arias, the boy who was with her when she suffered her bus accident. That year, Kahlo was introduced to Diego Rivera, a famed muralist who was working on an art piece at her school. Kahlo often admired Rivera and his work, watching him as he painted and talking to him. (“Frida Kahlo Biography”) Frida told people that she and Diego met in 1926, when she was nineteen, when she asked him for an opinion of her painting. He was then working on the scaffold at the ministry of education.
Rivera, on the other hand, told another story, in which he claims Kahlo became obsessed with him four years earlier in 1922, when she was fifteen. Kahlo sometimes talked of this version as if it were true, claiming she disrupted his work, stole his lunch, spied on his meetings with various women models, and told her friends she would bear his child. Rivera was considerably older than Kahlo, 36, and was seen by her friends as a "pot bellied, filthy old man." (Marnham, 219) Frida frequently referred to him As Fatso. Onlookers saw them as “the delicate dove and the fat frog” (“Pain...

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