Frida Kahlo, art and life in the Blue House

Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo Calderón was born on July 6th in 1907, in Coyoacán, south of Mexico City, the daughter of German-Hungarian photographer Guillermo Kahlo and Matilde Calderón y González, herself born in Oaxaca of a Spanish mother and Mexican father. The artist, who has told us so much about herself  through her paintings, has also left lasting impressions in our minds through her look and style.

Frida Kahlo attended the renowned National Preparatory School in Mexico City in the year of 1922. There are only thirty-five female students enrolled in that school and she soon became famous for her outspokenness and bravery. At this school she first met the famous Mexican muralist Diego Rivera for the first time. Rivera at that time was working on a mural called The Creation on the school campus. Frida often watched it and she told a friend she will marry him someday.

Frida Kahlo reconnected with Rivera in 1928. She asked him to evaluate her work and he encouraged her. The two soon started the romantic relationship. Despite her mother's objection, Frida and Diego Rivera got married in the next year. 

La Casa Azul

It was the scene of significant experiences that inspired Frida. The house has different rooms, one of them has been her special predilection, because in her Diary the painter recounts having been born in one of them. 

In the first room of the actual museum we can find the emblematic work “Long Live Life” In these expressive watermelons, Frida wrote, a few days before her departure, a message intended for all of us who admire her. A phrase as simple as it is essential to keep in mind, with that the artist wanted to be remembered here, in her house.

Frida’s drawings reveal her psychological moments.  Probably, they functioned as a kind of visual self-analysis that the artist carried out to clarify her ideas and feelings; thus nurturing her conscious relationship with her own beginning.

The Broken Columnis

A particularly pertinent example of the combination of Kahlo's emotional and physical pain. The artist's biographer, Hayden Herrera, writes of this painting, 'A gap resembling an earthquake fissure splits her in two. The opened body suggests surgery and Frida's feeling that without the steel corset she would literally fall apart'. A broken ionic column replaces the artist's crumbling spine and sharp metal nails pierce her body.

Tradition: My dress hangs there

Frida started identifying clothes as tools to create her own identity and to conceal her physical imperfections at a very early age. Two tragedies that were to befall Frida, even before she reached what is today considered the age of adulthood, would inform her wardrobe as much as they were to later form the bedrock of her existence and her art. At the age of six, Kahlo contracted polio: “it all started with a terrible pain on the upper 1 part of my right leg”. As a result she was left with a withered and shorter right leg for life. It was as a direct result of this physical condition that Kahlo began to choose long skirts. She wore three or four socks on her thinner calf and used shoes with a built up 2 right heel to disguise her imperfections. 

The second traumatic event was on September 17, 1925, when at the age of eighteen, she suffered a near fatal accident. As she was returning from school, an electric tramway car hit the bus she was riding on. The result was horrific: a steel handrail went straight through the left side of her body piercing her abdomen and uterus, leaving her unable to bear children. Her collarbone, spinal column and right foot were broken. This accident marked the beginning of her deteriorating physical condition to the point where her right leg was amputated in 1953. The effects of both the physical and physiological trauma resulting from these events would haunt Kahlo for the rest of her life.