Important Life Lessons, Courtesy of Frida Kahlo

Musings from a final year (non-art historian) student, trying to avoid exam revision through the cultural procrastination of the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome:

There are never enough opportunities for a cheeky selfie –

Whilst we may frown our cultural brows down on the highly edited, makeup filled, pout shots that fill many a pre-teen’s Instagram account, Frida knows how to do this right. Whether accompanied by monkeys or butterflies, this feisty female is all about the power shot. And boy does she nail it!


I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.

– Facial hair is for the fearless –

Whether this be rocking an upper lip embellishment that sixteen year old boys can only dream of, or eschewing the tweezers in favour of a mono approach to the brow, Miss Kahlo puts those Latino roots to good use by cultivating instead of hiding her plentiful facial follicles.


I leave you my portrait so that you will have my presence all the days and nights that I am away from you.

– No man, no cry! –

With one of the overriding themes throughout her paintings being strength, it is also important to acknowledge the grief and isolation. Whilst her stern portraits may display images of a stoic heroine, Frida’s tempestuous romantic relationship with her husband, Mexican artist Diego Rivera, has often be viewed as one of the main contributors to the sadness and isolation in her images.


There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the trolley, and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.

Injury stops no one. (Or at least no woman) –

Whilst her infamous bus crash may have been the lead reason Kahlo started painting and ceased her medical studies, it was also a great source of pain for the artist. Her changing relationship with her body is documented through her paintings. Although a clear message of vitality and life can be seen, particularly when referring to the fragile power of the female body.


I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint.

– One is never too old or too ill to appear on the cover of Vogue –

This breath-taking photograph taken by Nickolas Murray, during the more difficult years of her illness, was used by Mexican Vogue in 2012 and is one of their ‘most celebrated’ cover images.


Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light.

– Numbers come and go, great anecdotes last forever –

Having claimed all her life that she was born in 1910 (conveniently the year the Mexican Revolution began), it has been confirmed that Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón was actually born in 1907. But who can blame a girl for shaving a couple of years off her age, all in the aid of a top story for the dinner table.


I must fight with all my strength so that the little positive things that my health allows me to do might be pointed toward helping the revolution. The only real reason for living.

– If you can’t find a suitable movement to describe your style, just invent your own –

What we now use to describe Frida’s distinct style, Magical Realism, is actually a mixture of Revolutionary Paurperism, Stridentism, and the better known Surrealism, with Mexican folklore thrown in for good measure. Expect pictures infused with the country’s national identity, political strife and colours that embody Mexican popular culture. Renaissance eat your heat out!


They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.


Really, I do not know whether my paintings are surrealist or not, but I do know that they are the frankest expression of myself.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: