The Artist Is The Muse: Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter, feminist icon and muse to La Bella Figura. Known for her vivid and disarming self-portraits, Frida was relatively under the radar as an artist during her time while married to another gregarious Mexican painter, Diego Rivera. It was later, posthumously when her work exploded in the art world greater than Rivera's while they were both alive. 

As an artist, Frida developed her own style from personal life experiences and manifestations that were extremely intimate and revealed her vulnerabilities. She was called a surrealist painter, but Frida often negated that description of her work explaining she painted her reality. One of the reasons Frida Kahlo's work is so significant to me is she was burdened from a life of chronic physical pain. Frida wore a cumbersome leather and metallic brace that positioned her in a way to be able to sit and paint. Her mind however was as free as a bird. One of her most famous quotes is, "feet what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?" The notion of limitations was irrelevant to Frida who in the remaining years of her life continued to paint from her bed. 

Frida was deeply in love with Diego. Their relationship and stages of it would often show up in her work. Diego would break her heart numerous times. He was a notorious womanizer and even had an affair with Frida's sister, Cristina. Her heartbreak from being unable to be the only woman in Diego's life led her to transform the relationship and discover new ones for herself, including love affairs with women. The couple divorced briefly and remarried with new rules that allowed them to live an unconventional marriage. This part of her life is also reflective in her work. I've always been attracted to her paintings in which roots grow and intertwine out of her body. A woman in constant transformation. Growing, developing and transforming within herself. Frida was very clever and aware of her talent. In an interview with the Detroit news, Frida said this of Diego, "Of course he [Rivera] does well for a little boy, but it is I who am the big artist." Indeed her talent was great, even greater than Rivera's. What is most astonishing to me is how much Frida endured in her lifetime. Her pain physical and emotional never made her bitter. In fact, it had the opposite effect and for many of us that are Frida fans, her work and her bold and fearless heart speaks to us and challenges us from convention.