Who is

Who is Frida Kahlo?

Who is Frida Kahlo?

Who is 20th century pop culture icon Frida Kahlo? What is the meaning of Frida Kahlo’s paintings? What are the things to know about Frida Kahlo’s accident, illness and surgeries? Why was Frida Kahlo nicknamed ‘The Wooden Leg’? Here is the interesting life story of the world famous Mexican painter Frida Kahlo’s great love Diego Rivera and Frida…

The world-famous Mexican painter Frida Kahlo is also often referred to simply by the name Frida. The famous painter, whose full name is Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo Calderon, became one of the popular culture icons of the 20th century. Besides her paintings, she is known for her volatile private life and political views. Here is who is Frida Kahlo? The interesting life story of Frida Kahlo is curious…

Born on July 6, 1907 in the Coyoacán district of Mexico City, Frida Kahlo packed an interesting life story into her 47-year life.

Known for her leftism, Frida declared her birthday to be July 7, 1910, when the Mexican Revolution took place. She wanted his life to begin with the birth of modern Mexico.


As a 5-year-old girl, while hiking with her father, her foot tripped on tree roots and fell to the ground with great pain. After this event, she remained after her polio; It was a fragile leg that was slightly limp. Frida, whose leg was injured, was nicknamed ‘Wooden Leg Frida’.

Frida described this painful event with these words:

“I don’t know what connection can be made between my fall at Chapultec and what I went through afterwards. But one thing is for sure, it was the first time I had pain in my body that day.”

Frida, who studied at the National Preparatory School, which gave the best education of her period, turned to fields such as art, literature and philosophy. She became school friends with Alejandro Gomez Arias, Jose Gomez Robleda and Alfonso Villa, who will be known as the important names of Mexican intellectual life in the future. She joined an anarchist literary group.


At the age of 19, her life changed when she got off the bus with Alejandro Gomez, whom she loved because she forgot her umbrella and took another bus.

On September 17, 1925, on the way home from school, when the bus crashed into the tram, many people lost their lives, and one of the iron bars of the tram entered Frida’s left hip and came out of her pelvis. . Frida, who spent her whole life among corsets, hospitals and doctors after the accident; She lived with constant pain in his spine and right leg. She underwent 32 surgeries in her lifetime, and her right leg, which was injured by polio, was amputated in 1954 due to gangrene.

Coming out of the hospital a month after the accident, Kahlo began painting with the encouragement of her family to escape the hardship and pain. She made portraits of herself, looking in the mirror on the ceiling of his bed. Her first self-portrait is “Self-Portrait in Velvet Dress” (1926).

Frida, who started walking at the end of 1927, started to get closer to art and politics in this period. He met and became close friends with Cuban leader Julio Antonio Mella and photographer Tina Modotti. Together they began to attend the invitations of the artists of the period and the discussions of the socialists. Frida Kahlo became a member of the Mexican Communist Party in 1929.

frida kahlo


Continuing to paint, Kahlo met the famous Mexican painter Diego Rivera, known as Mexican Michelangelo, through her friend Tina Modotti and showed him her paintings.

Known for her fondness for women, Rivera came to the school to paint murals while she was studying at Frida National Preparatory School. Frida, on the other hand, had looked at this giant man’s brush for three hours and followed him without making a sound. Then she said to her friends, “I’m going to have a child from Rivera”…

frida kahlo

The two painters, born in a romantic relationship, got married on August 21, 1929. Frida became Rivera’s third wife. Their marriage has been likened to “the marriage of an elephant and a pigeon”.

Frida, who started painting to lighten the scars of her accident, soon proved her talent to everyone. Her marriage to the famous painter Diego Rivera, whom she met to exhibit her paintings, surprised everyone.

Rivera, around which many women revolve; He shone in the environments he entered, he was praised, he stood out everywhere with his reputation, thoughts and polemics. Elena Poniatovska said of Diego: “I picture you with that giant neck of yours, your belly always an inch ahead of you, your dirty shoes, your old crooked hat, and your rumpled trousers, and I don’t think anyone can carry such ugly things with such dignity.”

Living with Angelina Beloff, Rivera was never a faithful man during his stay in Russia. Not after marrying other women or Frida.


Frida made her second self-portrait the year she got married. The piece was purchased by an American collector in 2000 for $5 million. Frida Kahlo also left the party after Rivera was expelled from the Communist Party. He went to the United States with her wife in 1930 and lived with him until 1933, when Rivera finished her mural orders. Two years after their marriage, she painted “Frieda and Diego Rivera” (1931) based on their wedding photos. This work, which was exhibited at the annual exhibition of the San Francisco Association of Women Artists, was her first painting to enter an exhibition.

frida kahlo


The couple had a turbulent married life. Frida, who aborted a child due to health problems and had two miscarriages in a row, separated from her husband in 1939 due to infidelity, but remarried a year later and settled in the “Blue House” where Frida spent her childhood. Frida reflected baby losses in her paintings.

frida kahlo

She had an affair with Trotsky

Frida also had relationships with various men throughout their marriage. One of them was Leon Trotsky, one of the leading figures of the Russian revolution. Trotsky came to Mexico in 1937 with the special permission of Rivera from the Mexican President and settled in Frida’s house. Frida broke up with Trotsky after Trotsky’s wife realized their relationship. Questioned after Trotsky’s murder for being a friend of the assassin painter Siqueiros, Frida decided to leave Mexico for a while. She went to live with his ex-wife Rivera, who was in the US at the time, and the couple remarried.

frida kahlo

Among the names Frida loved throughout her life were Breton, Berggruen, Duchamp, Kandinsky, Muray, Picasso.

Although Kahlo is described as a surrealist painter by various art circles, it cannot be said that she is in favor of him; She is even known to have said the following about surrealism to her boyfriend, American photographer Nickolas Muray: “What does it mean to be a surrealist? Moving things away from their environment and placing them in another environment; She has always done this throughout the history of painting… The real problem with Surrealists is that they take themselves too seriously.”

frida kahlo

Frida, whose health often deteriorated, painted with all her might to cope with unbearable pain. He opened exhibitions not only in her own country, but also in America and France. The 1938 exhibition she opened in New York brought her great fame, and in 1939 she was praised with the Paris exhibition.

Although her husband seems to lag behind the famous painter Diego Rivera in her artistic life, the reality is the opposite. It is acknowledged by everyone, including Diego, that she taught more in the field of painting than she learned from Diego.

frida kahlo

Frida, who started teaching at a new art school called La Esmeralda in 1943, continued to teach for ten years despite her deteriorating health. Since she could not go to Mexico City due to his health conditions, she gave her lessons at home. Her students were called “Los Fridos” (Frida students).

She applied to join the Mexican Communist Party again in 1948, and her application was accepted.

There are 143 paintings by Frida Kahlo; 55 of them are self-portraits. It may seem normal to someone who spends most of her life in bed looking in the mirror above her head, but these portraits are not ordinary at all. “I’m alone. I don’t know anyone better than myself,” Frida was saying.

frida kahlo

When Frida Kahlo died on July 13, 1954 with the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism; The last painting he left behind was a still life called “Long Live Life”. Her last words in his diary were:

“I hope the way out will be nice and I’ll never go back.”

Her body was cremated the next day. Her ashes are stored in the Blue House. The Blue House was donated to the state by Rivera in 1955. Frida’s belongings are exhibited in the house, which is now a museum.

frida kahlo

Frida Kahlo’s life was shot in 2002 under the name Frida, and Kahlo was played by Salma Hayek in this movie. In 2005, a documentary film called The Life and Times Of Frida Kahlo was made about Frida Kahlo’s life.

frida kahlo

Famous Frenchman Jean-Paul Gaultier exhibited the Kahlo style at a fashion show in 1998. This fashion show had great repercussions in the world press and the fashion community. Love and Pain book about Frida Kahlo’s life was written by Raunda Jamis and translated into Turkish.

Gül Demirci

Hi, I'm Gul. I am a writer for Expat Guide Turkey and I strive to create the best content for you. To contact me, you can send an e-mail to info@expatguideturkey.com. Happy reading!


        1. Hello, dear Ryan,
          Thank you for the warning. I will make the necessary update. Thanks for your comment and constructive criticism.

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