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Portrait: Frida Kahlo beyond marketing imagery

Frida Klito

      When you think of Frida Kahlo, you imagine colorful Mexican skulls,  flowers and a mono-eyebrow. It's a bit of a shame because Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) is an extraordinary Mexican painter, full of combativeness. Today, his portraits feed a marketing imagery that tends to impoverish his representation. So, here are some biography elements that I share with you.

Considering the conventions of her time, we can say that Frida Kahlo had a very atypical life. Born in a Catholic society, she claims to be an atheist. From childhood, she likes to dress up as a boy and change gender. A practice that is not repressed by his family although unconventional for this time. As an adult, she tries - not without suffering - to free union with the famous painter Diego Rivera and does not hide her bisexuality (for example, she will have an affair with Josephine Baker).
Frida Kahlo was also atypical in her political views. Very young, she joined the Mexican branch of the Communist Party and married a notorious communist (Diego Rivera). Husband whom she convinced to disobey the Rothschild family, when the latter demanded that the painter remove Lenin from the commissioned fresco (the work was immediately destroyed by the Rothschilds). Frida also puts her life in danger to defend her political ideals. This is particularly the case when she binds to the revolutionary Leon Trotsky and welcomes him under her roof while he was in exile and wanted by Stalin (he was finally assassinated in 1940).

This power that characterized Frida Kahlo was not predestined. She was born with fragile health and had her share of bad luck. All her life, she has to struggle with serious health problems. After a bus accident that occurred at a very young age which led to several major surgeries, she had to put up with body pain all her life, walking with a cane and the impossibility of having children (she wanted some but finally resigned after multiple miscarriages). Sad events that she sublimated in her artistic works and which will allow her - after having lived for a long time in the artistic shadow of her husband (her too!) - to obtain worldwide recognition.

In 1953, when she finally obtained the possibility of exhibiting her works in Mexico, she was very ill. Feigning her doctor who orders her to stay in bed, she creates a surprise by landing lying in her bed at her opening.
In 1954, after a leg amputation that plunged her into depression, she succumbed to pneumonia, leaving a monumental work to the history of art, and to women, a powerful source of inspiration.



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