Frida Kahlo Blog

Kahlo photos amaze, as predicated


Feb 28 2012 09:09PM | by Staff Editor

We all know without a shadow of a doubt that Kahlo paintings are amazing works of art to behold. Each is unique and riveting in its own special way, drawing you in emotionally and intellectually. While Kahlo paintings are all well known, what is perhaps less well known is that Kahlo was an avid photographer. A few posts ago we noted that Kahlo’s dad was actually a photographer by profession, and taught his daughter the skills needed to become a skilled photographer in her own right. Well, one exhibition in an Arlington, U.S.A., gallery seeks to build on and provide more insights into the life of Kahlo through her photographs. The exhibition in question is titled Frida Kahlo: Her Photos and features about 250 photographs from a secret treasure trove of Kahlo and Diego Rivera memorabilia. The original photographs are part of more than 6500 personal effects that belonged to the couple, which were put in storage after Rivera passed away under stipulations in his will. However, after a brief legal debate among the heirs it’s been decided to open the contents early (back in 2007) with workers now examining all the content. Parts of this result are the Kahlo... Read more

Frida, Paris And The Frame


Jan 22 2012 10:02PM | by Staff Editor

In 1939 Mexican Surrealist Frida Kahlo embarked upon a trip to France at the behest of André Breton, exhibiting her work in Paris where the 1938 oil painting The Frame became the first work by a 20th Century Mexican artist to be purchased by the Louvre. The exhibition and the purchase of her work by such an esteemed artistic institution helped to cement Frida’s position as a credible artist, independent of Diego Rivera’s fame, and helped to establish her status within the art world. Kahlo’s association with Breton began in 1938 when he accepted a cultural commission from the French government to travel to Mexico. French writer and poet Breton had established the Surrealist movement in Paris in the early 1920s. After years of writing and collaborating with other artists, developing and evolving the ideas of the post First World War Dadaist movement, Breton published the Surrealist Manifesto in which he defined Surrealism as, “Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express – verbally, by means of the written word or in any other manner – the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any... Read more

Kahlo And Doña Lola


Jan 10 2012 05:24PM | by Staff Editor

When we consider the key figures in the life, and more importantly for the purposes of this post, the artistic career of Mexican Surrealist Frida Kahlo, the answers may seem obvious to some. Diego Rivera may be one of the first names that comes to mind along with French Surrealist André Breton and Kahlo’s Mexican contemporaries like Abraham Ángel and Ángel Zárraga. Perhaps the influence of her father Guillermo Kahlo, her native Amerindian heritage or the socio-political impact of Leon Trotsky may appear high on some people list of influences? However a figure that many people may not be too familiar with, but who was arguably as important in the collection (and eventual promotion) of Kahlo’s oil paintings as any other figure in her life, was Dolores Olmedo. Olmedo was born María De Los Dolores Olmedo y Patiño Suarez in December of 1908, a year after Kahlo had entered the world. She became an esteemed and socially prominent Mexican businesswoman, philanthropist and musician, but she is best remembered in the art world for her patronage of the work Diego Rivera, and in turn Frida Kahlo. Olmedo, known as Doña Lola to her family and friends, was actually acquainted with Kahlo... Read more

The Posthumous Branding Of Kahlo


Dec 27 2011 01:49PM | by Staff Editor

Nowadays when most people think of Frida Kahlo, there are clear associations that leap to the front of their mind – neo-Mexican artist, feminist and style icon are now attributes that are commonly associated with her and her work, but this wasn’t always the case. In fact this wasn’t the case at all until around 25 years after her death in 1954. Kahlo has been posthumously branded for a new generation of consumer, and many of the things that are now thought to be ‘typically Frida’ would have been considered completely atypical when taken in context with her life and work. The first major achievement in the rebranding of Kahlo is the popular notion that she would have been popular, well known and artistically relevant during her lifetime. Unfortunately she was for the most part overshadowed, often quite literally, by her enormous husband Diego Rivera. He was a giant in the Mexican art scene and was internationally renowned for his revolutionary murals and fiery ideals, and Kahlo was often simply referred to in the press and by the media as ‘Rivera’s wife’. In Detroit where Rivera created the legendary Detroit Industry Murals, a newspaper at the time carried the headline... Read more

From Wilhelm Kahl To Guillermo Kahlo


Dec 25 2011 09:31PM | by Staff Editor

When people say ‘Mexican artist’, Frida Kahlo’s name is often one of the first that springs to mind. While the Mexican influence can be clearly seen in Kahlo oil paintings, how about the German influence? Yep, you heard right. What many people may not know is that Kahlo is half German on her father’s side, and that he was an accomplished photographer in his own right. Carl Wilhelm Kahl was born in 1871 in Pforzheim, Grand Duchy of Baden, in the German Empire, the son of a jeweller, Jakob Heinrich Kahl and Henriette Kaufmann. Kahlo used to claim that her father was of Hungarian Jewish heritage, but a recent book asserts that despite this being propagated by her, his parents were in fact Protestants hailing from Frankfurt. Kahlo is also known to have claimed to have been born in 1910 as opposed to in 1907, so that her birthday would coincide with the Mexican Revolution – we’re not really sure what her angle may have been on the Hungarian Jewish claim, but it may have been to disassociate herself from Germany at the time of the Nazi regime. Wilhelm studied at the University of Nuremburg and in 1891, reportedly because... Read more

A peek into the Frida Kahlo Museum (Museo Frida Kahlo) a.k.a. the Blue House (La Casa Azul)


Nov 30 2011 06:21PM | by Staff Editor

If you are a Frida Kahlo admirer and you only have time to visit one location in a whirlwind tour of Mexico, we’d advise stopping at The Frida Kahlo Museum, or, as it is also known, the Blue House. The historic landmark in the Colonia del Carmen neighbourhood of Coyoacán in Mexico City is one of Mexico’s most visited sites, and its blue-cobalt-walls are steeped in history: it was the birthplace of Kahlo, where she grew up, where she spent a few years of her life, and where she eventually died. It was, arguably, the one constant physical object in her life and the source of great comfort for her. The museum is fascinating simply because it is the one location where you can see personal Kahlo objects you simply can’t see anywhere else in the world. This includes Kahlo’s and Rivera’s collection of Mexican folk art, photographs, clothes, memorabilia and other personal items and pre-Hispanic artefacts, all of which will be explored in the coming paragraphs. The Casa Azul was only turned into the museum it is now in in 1958, four years after Frida Kahlo died and after the request of her husband, Diego Rivera. Everything in the... Read more

The Immaculate Conceptions of Frida Kahlo


Nov 28 2011 07:58PM | by Staff Editor

If you’d oblige the dear writer with a little rant, we’d like to highlight the sad state of affairs in many media outlets today and the very debasement of art and culture: a comparison was actually produced between the artistic merits of Kardashian and our beloved Frida Kahlo. We won’t name the culprit, but suffice to say the only possible excuse would be that it was a high form of satire or sarcasm – sadly, from all appearances, it wasn’t. What an insult to our beloved Frida and her artwork! We hope the subjects of this blog post had a similar reaction if they read it – we are, of course, talking about the cast and crew of Ex Voto: The Immaculate Conceptions of Frida Kahlo, on at The Ochre House in Dallas, Texas, U.S.A. The play is written and directed by Matthew Posey, and aims to celebrate the life and artwork of Frida Kahlo (played by Elizabeth Evans). The focus is on her oil paintings, where Kahlo notably took much emotional pain, turning it into passion, while absorbing her own physical deterioration and turning it into something powerful and transformative. The emotional pain was, famously, wreaked much by the... Read more

Frida Kahlo paintings inspire more Kahlo paintings


Oct 30 2011 10:52AM | by Staff Editor

This week we bring you two cases of Kahlo artwork inspiring oil paintings that feature the famous Mexican painter. Each one is the case of for better and for worse, and in sickness and in health, so to speak. Frida Kahlo was of course most famous for her self-portraits, and it is in this theme that artist Gilbert Marosi looks to reenergize and re-compose some of her works. The artist admits he is not out to emulate or imitate, but rather present Frida and her husband Rivera in a blend of “masterworks of both in a magical interpretation”. Marosi bases his magical interpretations of Kahlo portraits centred on the motif and theme of the ancient Aztecs and their forefathers, the Toltecs. In the painting Frida and the Monkey on the artist’s website, the link is made between Frida engrossed in carrying a monkey, an ancient symbol of innocence; Kahlo often bemoaned the innocence she lost early in life due to the health problems and the bus crash which would haunt her medically for the rest of her life. Another oil painting called Frida cradling Diego builds on this theme in the unspoilt Mexican utopia, a surreal world where Kahlo is... Read more

Frida in film, fashion and the stage


Oct 18 2011 09:42AM | by Staff Editor

Everywhere you look Frida Kahlo lives on. It is literally impossible to avoid her name if you stay up to date with the ongoing events of the artosphere. Take, for example, the Moschino fashion show in the last week of September: gold, yellow and bright colours offset by Mexican prints was de rigueur for spring and summer fashion 2012 in Milan. Why? As Moschino’s creative director Rosella Jardini explained, the theme was “inspired by warm, sunny places such as Spain, New Mexico, southern Arizona and Santa Fe”. Fashion critics later noted that some of the outfits were straight out of a Frida Kahlo painting – high praise indeed. On the film front, Frida Kahlo finds herself the target of another homage piece, this time in the form of Bone Wind Fire, a Canadian indie film directed by Jill Shape that premiered at the Vancouver Film Festival. The movie traces the live and inspirations behind three artists: American Georgia O’Keefe, Canadian Emily Carr and of course, Mexican Frida Kahlo. The movie uniquely examines the narratives of these three great women painters, drawing on their lives through diary accounts and the letters they sent to family and friends. Filmed on location in... Read more

Kahlo portraits inspire Czech ballet


Oct 02 2011 11:44AM | by Staff Editor

“I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration.” Frida Kahlo Frida Kahlo is universally recognised as one of Mexico’s best artists. Born in Mexico City in 1907, her life was filled with adventure, creativity, productivity, joys and great depressions. Kahlo experienced many physical and emotional pains the majority of us fortunately avoid: childhood polio left her with a severe limp, while a bus accident left her bedridden and physically incapacitated for the rest of her life. Emotionally, her life was a rollercoaster ride as well: she would marry, divorce and re-marry Diego Rivera, have affairs with other artists and intellectuals, including Leon Trotsky, and experience perhaps the most heartbreaking experience of all – catching your husband, Rivera, in an affair with your sister. It is no surprise then that Kahlo paintings, in particular her portraits, are often deeply emotional and sometimes disturbing. In fact, she is famously quoted as saying: “I don’t paint dreams or nightmares, I paint my own reality.” All that, of course, makes for a great ballet. Kahlo herself once said “I drank to drown... Read more

Kahlo painting study: Suicide of Dorothy Hale (1939)


Sep 04 2011 09:26PM | by Staff Editor

“I was born a bitch. I was born a painter.” – Frida Kahlo Frida Kahlo was an uncompromising individual. She called a spade a spade, a dog a dog, and she painted what she wanted to paint. You couldn’t fault her on any grounds, except that perhaps she was too committed to being an individual. The famous Kahlo quirks, ingenuity and peculiarities can be seen in many of Kahlo paintings, especially her self-portraits. They are all also seen in a lesser known but equally through provoking Kahlo painting, The Suicide of Dorothy Hale. A bit of background is necessary to appreciate the story behind this Kahlo painting. Dorothy Hale (nee Donovan) was born on January 11, 1905. She was basically your run-of-the-mill American socialite and the typical aspiring actress. Critics noted she was an extraordinarily beautiful woman, but panned her on her acting talents. Nevertheless, Hale was introduced to luxury living and high society after her first marriage to millionaire stockbroker, Gaillard Thomas. The marriage ended in divorce and she remarried Gardner Hale, a mural, fresco and society portrait painter. She expanded her network of friends, which included artists Rosa and Miquel Corvarrubias, Frida Kahlo and photographer Nickolas Muray. Hale’s... Read more

Kahlo combines love and marketing tips


Aug 07 2011 10:24PM | by Staff Editor

Frida Kahlo – her name doesn’t need any introduction on this blog, suffice to say that Mexico’s greatest woman modern painter continues to touch and inspire lives today. In this blog post we bring you two snapshots of what we’ve dubbed the Kahlo Effect (we hope this catches on). Firstly, Kahlo and her contribution to the burgeoning love of a couple of art aficionadas, and secondly, Lady Gaga and Kahlo combine for marketing tips. Hold on to your hats! Our first documented case of the Kahlo Effect can be seen in the heart-warming love story of two art students, Sergio Moreno and Emily Akins. According to the Kansas City Star, Moreno grew up in Mexico City and was privileged enough to visit the Kahlo house and view many of her paintings. Fast forward a few years to 1998 and he found himself studying art at the Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Oklahoma, USA. The assignment: write about your favourite artist. He chose Kahlo, but the professor informed him that she was already taken by another student, and that he would have to settle for Diego Rivera. As art would imitate life and life, art, it was one Ms Akins who... Read more

Images transmuted into motion: dance performance inspired by the duality of Kahlo paintings


Jul 24 2011 09:57PM | by Staff Editor

Teachers sometimes use certain exercises to promote creativity in learners. Charades, for example. It begins with something pedestrian – imitating an animal doesn’t usually prove challenging. Tell a child to act like a monkey and he or she would predictably hunch over, arms bowed in the standard barrel o’ monkey position or slacked forward like an ape. Tell a group of children to act like a tomato, and you could get some odd glares, and maybe a few or several six-year-olds rolling their bodies into a plump ball with hands clasped over their heads. However… now imagine how those children would interpret the collected works of Frida Kahlo. Take a second. In your mind’s eye, what are the children doing? At the National Gallery of Modern Art, Bangalore-based dancer, Jyotsna Rao, endeavors to translate the themes of Kahlo paintings into an expressive array of sound and movement. In her full-length solo performance, Spirit, she attempts to capture the essence of juxtaposition, pain, love, and will that echoed Frida’s own journey. In the dancer’s words, “Why I found [Kahlo’s] work interesting was because what kept Frida going was the spirit in her will to live. In spite of all the hurdles... Read more

Frida Kahlo in focus: The Frame, circa 1938


Jul 11 2011 11:59AM | by Staff Editor

“Neither Derain nor myself, nor you, are capable of painting a head like those of Frida Kahlo” Pablo Picasso to Diego Rivera, 1938 Frida Kahlo is a Mexican painter who needs no introduction on our website (but if you do, we have an excellent Kahlo bio. Known throughout the world for her portraits, she is particularly renowned for her self-portraits: she painted at least 55, many of which reflected on the physical and emotional pain she suffered and endured throughout her life. While many are notable and special in their own right, one deserves particular attention: The Frame, completed circa 1937-38, was the first work bought by the Louvre Museum of a 20th century Mexican artist. It is also notable because it is an oil on glass and aluminum. Kahlo first exhibited The Frame in October 1938 when she travelled to New York for her first solo exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery. Here she exhibited 25 paintings, half of which were sold. She then travelled to Paris for the January exhibition “Mexique” at the Colle Gallery, where she was the star attraction. The exhibition also featured work by photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo and surrealist painter André Breton’s collection of... Read more

Chicago, Kahlo and YOU: face to face with each other (and learn Spanish, too!)


May 24 2011 10:09AM | by Staff Editor

There seems to be no end to the recent Frida-mania sweeping the USA (and we think it is firmly a good thing!). A new book has hit the proverbial bookshelf and we think it is one Kahlo lovers – and certainly broader art aficionados – cannot afford to miss. Titled Frida Kahlo: Face to Face, the coffee-table tome is written by two significant artists and historians in their own right, Judy Chicago and Frances Borzello. Chicago is a noted artist, feminist, author and educator who has been in the public eye for at least four decades. Her most well-renowned work is the The Dinner Party, a critically acclaimed multimedia project. Borzello is himself a noted historian who has published widely on gender and cultural issues. Chicago is no stranger to Kahlo’s work. She helped introduce American audiences to Kahlo paintings before the Mexican artist became widely popular and her expertise shows in her selection of Kahlo artwork for the book. The 100 portraits selected provide a spectrum of issues that not only Kahlo discussed through her artwork, but issues that were and are still relevant to women today: feminist art, the role of gender, relationships, the body, the ego/self, pride,... Read more

Frida Kahlo's Great-Niece to Speak


May 03 2011 09:16AM | by Staff Editor

Studying artwork by Frida Kahlo can be a transformative experience. Frida Kahlo paintings often contain self-portraits. Frida, as depicted in her own paintings, is often in pain and struggling with her health. She is frank about her physical flaws, highlighting her facial hair and masculine features. In short, Frida as depicted in her own paintings can come across as severe and a bit harsh as well as frail and in need of help. According to her great-niece, Cristina Kahlo, the opposite was often true. Cristina Kahlo, who spoke in Texas in March, states that her great-aunt was often quite funny and amusing for people to spend time with. Cristina Kahlo also states that Frida was a master of her own image. She dressed exotically, piling her hair upon her head in traditional braids and wearing peasant-type clothes of flowing fabrics. She wore chunky, bright jewelry in layers. Her own visual style made her striking. Nobody else looked quite like her, and people were drawn to her because she was unique. This means that many, many people took photographs of Frida Kahlo. It's been said that Kahlo was photographed more often than Marilyn Monroe, in fact. Cristina Kahlo suggests that Frida... Read more

Frida Kahlo Witnesses Big Changes


Apr 26 2011 10:56AM | by Staff Editor

Frida Kahlo was always fond of upheaval and revolution. She supported the Communist movement. She had an affair with Leon Trotsky. Her husband, Diego Rivera, produced multiple inflammatory murals containing images of Stalin, among other characters. It seems apt, then, that a major exhibition of Frida Kahlo artwork would be on display in the Middle East during a time of political change. The Pera Museum in Istanbul, Turkey was home to the widely popular exhibit containing Frida Kahlo paintings, photographs and photographs taken by others of Frida. The exhibit also contains works by Diego Rivera, but curators state that the focus of the exhibition is placed squarely on Kahlo. For Frida Kahlo, artwork was always personal. It is important to know about the Friday Kahlo biography in order to understand the message of the paintings. Curators play a short movie, "The Life and Death of Frida Kahlo," to acquaint viewers to the artist's life, in case they've not yet been exposed. As an example, the painting The Broken Column, makes no sense without the knowledge that Frida suffered a back injury as a young woman, and had multiple surgeries and procedures performed in the hopes of correcting the problem. Similarly,... Read more

Play Based on Life of Frida Kahlo Opens to Rave Reviews


Apr 10 2011 05:02PM | by Staff Editor

Frida Kahlo often used aspects of her life to inform her art. For her, art simply was personal, and it made sense for her to discuss her pain through her artwork. Now, a new play explores Frida's life in dramatic format, using her paintings as a springboard to deeper discussion. "La Vida y Los Tiempos de Frida Kahlo" opened in a Spanish-language-only format in Houston, Texas in February. An English version will be available next month. The play begins with Frida entering the stage on a wheelchair. Frida painted portraits of herself in wheelchairs many times, as she was often ill and incapacitated. The play uses this wheelchair as a method to introduce the audience to the medical impairments that plagued Frida throughout her life. Kahlo had polio as a child and was severely injured in an accident as a young woman. The combination of these two injuries meant that Kahlo spent much of her life in severe pain, dealing with medical problems. She dealt with her frustrations by turning them into art. Consider Henry Ford Hospital, in which Frida paints an image of her miscarriage in a surrealist landscape. Or A Few Small Nips, which shows Frida once again... Read more