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Frida Kahlo: Artist, Feminist, Rebel Essay

3012 words - 12 pages

Frida Kahlo is a world-renowned Mexican painter known for her shocking self-portaits filled with painful imagery. Her artwork was seen by many as surrealist and socialist, but she refused the labels put on herself. Until today, her works have been able to exude the same playful and wild feel as before (Fisher n.p). Her legacy as a painter has attracted prominent people like Madonna who has confessed her admiration for the painter. Not only that but fashion designers are frequently inspired by her iconic Tijuana dresses while her paintings have been priced at more than three million dollars (Bauer 115).
Besides that, one notable quality of Frida Kahlo that attracts women would be her feminism. In a country where the percentage of women in the work force was only 18% at 1910 and 38% at 2008 (Monk n.p), she stood out as both an independent and empowered woman of her time. After the divorce from her husband Diego Rivera, she had decided for herself that she would be financially independent from her husband by selling her paintings and refusing any financial support from Diego Rivera. She proudly announced that she would never accept any money from a man in her whole life (Kettenmann 52). The female youth of Mexico should continue Frida Kahlo's legacy by empowering themselves and other women.
First of all, at 15, Frida Kahlo was one of the thirty-five girls who attended the National Prepatory School or Escuela Nacional Prepatoria. She quickly joined one of the cliques in school called Cachuchas who were a group of intellectuals who believed in the enlightenment of Mexico (Souter 12). The group had influenced some of Frida's early paintings and some members have been captured in her artwork. For example, the Portrait of Miguel N. Lira is a painting of Lira, a member of the Cachuchas that Kahlo was friends with where he is depicted behind many symbols like the archangel Michael which is a reference to his name Miguel. This shows her early use of symbolisms in her paintings. Another work would be If Adelita... or The Peaked Caps which is a painting of the several members from the Cachuchas around a table and their different personalities. These early paintings were not only her first attempts of painting but symbolized her beginning as an artist (Kettenmann 11 and 12).
Later on, she took a job to lift the financial burdens of her family and was the paid apprentice of Fernando Fernandez who employed her to copy prints and drawings. He was surprised by her innate talent in art and praised Kahlo's work under him. Despite this, she felt no need to be a professional artist and saw art as a mere hobby (Souter 19). On September 17 1925, there was a collision between a bus and a streetcar. This accident left Frida Kahlo bed-ridden for several months because of her many fractures and dislocated legs. To end her boredom she started painting, borrowing oil paint from her father and asking for an easel from her mother (Kettenmann 17 and 18). Her paintings...

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