Who was Frida Kahlo?

Graffiti painting of Frida Kahlo with famous flower head garland

Frida Kahlo was and still is an icon in the art world, and as you’ll see from every painting of her, her joint eyebrows made her recognisable in a sea of upcoming artists! You may have seen snippets here and there about Frida, as well as pictures of her and glimpses of her art, but you might be wondering “who was Frida Kahlo”? And what inspired her exactly? Well, we reveal all in this insightful article, filled with information on her life, death and most famous artwork. Just read on to start your education! 

When was Frida Kahlo born?

Frida Kahlo was born on the 6th of July 1907, well that’s what her birth certificate stated. However, it’s often said that Kahlo claimed she was born on a different date, the 7th of July, 1920. Maybe this was to appear a little younger than she actually was? Unfortunately, it’s something we’ll never quite get to the bottom of…

Where was Frida Kahlo born?

 Frida Kahlo's Blue House at Frida Kahlo Museum

Image source: Flickr, Bogdan Migulski

Frida Kahlo was born in Mexico City, in her childhood (and forever home), which many refer to as “the Blue House” and “Casa Azul”. And today’s Frida Kahlo Museum is actually built inside the house where she was born, which is pretty remarkable.

When did Frida Kahlo die?

Frida Kahlo died on the 13th of July 1954, aged 47, which was quite young. Though, some would say this was lucky considering her life of illnesses. Kahlo contracted polio in infancy at the age of six, where she was bedridden for nine months.

She also suffered bouts of illnesses and accidents throughout her life. For instance, in 1925 she was involved in a serious bus accident, which she described herself as a “…strange crash, not violent but dull and slow, and it injured everyone, me much more seriously.” Frida’s suffering wasn’t all for nothing, though, as she cleverly channelled this into her work, continuously telling her story through the art of painting.

Who inspired Frida Kahlo?

Frida got a lot of her early inspiration from her father, who was an artist himself. And rather not who, but what inspired Frida Kahlo was indigenous Mexican culture, which is evident in her earlier works right up until her final painting.

However, later in life, Diego Rivera – Frida’s husband, would play a key part in her artistry. Her relationship with Rivera developed her work, as his keen interest in pre-Hispanic history and the reclaiming of Mexico’s culture and history encouraged Frida’s work quite considerably. As, she went on to explore identity more than ever before. It’s thanks to this interest of Frida and Rivera’s influence that saw her love for Mexican dress, which led to her dressing in traditional jewellery, clothing and her classic head garland.

So, why was Frida Kahlo famous?

 Wooden table with stitched portrait of Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo was a painter, and an incredible one at that. She broke boundaries by portraying her own journey through her art, which female artists of her time had not done before.

But what type of artist was Frida Kahlo and where can you see her paintings today? To help you understand her work, her past and her inspiration a little more, we’ve listed the art museums and galleries where her famous artwork is displayed, and which pieces are found where.

Frida Kahlo Museum – Mexico City

Window surrounded by shrubbery at Frida Kahlo's childhood home

Situated within Frida’s childhood and later-life home (“the Blue House”), the Frida Kahlo Museum is excellent, filled with artworks that aren’t quite as popular as some of her earlier work. Instead, the artwork here was created later on in her life when her communist education was at its peak.

Museo Dolores – Mexico City

Museo Dolores is the home of 25 famous Frida Kahlo paintings, drawings and sketches she produced over the years. Frida’s very first easel painting is displayed here – ‘Portrait of Alicia Galant’ (1927) alongside her iconic, Mi ‘Nana y Yo’ (1937) and ‘La Columna Rota’ (1927) autobiographical pieces.

Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City

 ‘The Two Fridas’ painting, 1939 by Frida Kahlo

Image source: Flickr, Ed Uthman

 

One of Frida Kahlo’s most famous paintings – a self-portrait piece, ‘The Two Fridas’ (1939) can be found at Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City. So, it’s certainly worth a visit to study this iconic piece where one half of her is illustrated in indigenous, Mexican dress, with the other in European-style clothing to portray her mixed identity.

The Museum of Modern Art – New York

 Frida Kahlo's ‘Fulang-Chang and I’ painting at The Museum of Modern Art

Image source: Flickr, Vic Damoses

It’s here you can admire Kahlo’s contemporary paintings, alongside three of her self-portrait illustrations, including one that depicts her and her pet monkey, Fulang-Chang ‘Fulang-Chang and I’ (1937). This particular painting was one she gifted to her good friend Mary Sklar, and Frida attached a mirror to the piece so that whenever Mary looked into the mirror, she’d see Frida and her beloved pet in the reflection.

The Museum of Modern Art is filled with some of Kahlo’s other brilliant art pieces, such as ‘Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair’ (1940), which is intended to toy with her identity as a female, painting herself with short hair and sitting in a suit, rather than the typical ‘feminine’ hair garlands and Tehuana dresses she was known for wearing. Many say this painting could be pointing towards Kahlo’s own bisexuality and her battle with identity, and what it meant for her while she was alive.

Museum of Fine Arts – Boston

It’s at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston where you can find Kahlo’s 1928 painting, ‘Dos Mujeres (Salvadora y Herminia)’, portraying two Mexican women standing side by side amongst a green, tropical background. This painting was held privately in the US since 1929, and it was actually the first piece of work she sold.

National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC

The National Museum of Women in Arts is great for answering your question, “Who was Frida Kahlo?” because it’s here you’ll find her famous piece, ‘Self-Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky’ (1937). This painting was created by Kahlo after (or maybe during) her affair with Leon Trotsky, a communist leader at the time.

Los Angeles County Museum – Los Angeles

If you ever want to visit the states to see Kahlo’s ‘Weeping Coconuts (Cocos gimientes)’ painting from 1951, Los Angeles County Museum is the place to go. This oil-on-board painting is phenomenal, really giving you an insight into Frida’s roots and her relationship with Mexico.

How much are Frida Kahlo’s paintings worth today?

Graffiti art portrait of Frida Kahlo with blue car

Since Frida Kahlo’s produced such beautiful and iconic artwork, her pieces are still worth a whole lot today. Frida’s work actually ranges from 84 USD to as much as $34,883,000! The record price of her work so far was at an auction in Sotheby’s New York back in 2021, being bought for a whopping $34,883,000. This just proves this artist’s growing popularity lives on, even today.

Keep on learning

Now you’ve discovered more about Frida Kahlo and the influence she had on the art you love, you can appreciate her work even more than before. For further insights into the world of art, visit our blog, where you can find more articles on other old (and new) artists, as well as handy how-tos.

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