Frida Kahlo: “A Ribbon Around a Bomb”

Frida Kahlo Self Portrait

Frida Kahlo Self Portrait

In all of the New World, there was never so beguiling and striking a painter as Frida Kahlo. Today is her birthday. If she were alive today, she would be 109 years old. But, alas, she died in pain at the age of 47.

At the age of 6, Frida came down with polio. For the rest of her life, her right leg would be thinner than her left—a fact she disguised by wearing only pants or long dresses. At the age of 18, she was in a bus accident in which she suffered, according to Wikipedia, “a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone, broken ribs, eleven fractures in her right leg, a crushed and dislocated right foot, and a dislocated shoulder.” Also she was able to walk again, she suffered excruciating pain, had multiple surgeries, and became a world-famous painter.

She married the painter Diego Rivera, had numerous affairs, including with Leon Trotsky, and was, despite her health issues, beautiful and proud. Of her, André Breton said of her art that it was “a ribbon around a bomb.”

Nude Portrait of Frida Kahlo by Julien Levy

Nude Portrait of Frida Kahlo by Julian Levy

In the end, after she died, Frida’s fame only grew, such that her work is more recognized today than that of any of her contemporaries. If ever I should return to Mexico City, I would like to visit the Casa Azul, the Blue House, in Coyoacán, where she was born and where she died. Today it is a museum dedicated to her life and work.

Frida’s Self Portrait with Broken Column

Frida’s Self Portrait with Broken Column and Nails

Asked why she appears as the subject of so many of her paintings, the artist said “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.”