Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón (July 6th, 1907-July 13th, 1954) was a Mexican painter, who we know best for her many self-portraits, portraits, and paintings inspired by Mexico and Nature, employing a naive folk art style, with autobiographical elements mixed with fantasy, belonging to the Mexicayotl movement. In her art, she explored identity, postcolonialism, gender, class, and race in Mexico.
She was born in 1907 to a German father, Guillermo Kahlo, and a mestiza mother, Matilde Calderón y González, Kahlo lived most of her life in La Casa Azul in the city of Coyoacán. When she was six, she contracted polio, which stunted her leg. When she was 18, in 1925, she was in a bus accident and was left bedridden for three months afterwards (in a plaster corset); the incident left her with chronic illness for the rest of her life. In 1928, she was introduced to Diego Rivera, who she would divorce in 1939 but remarry in 1940. Among her many affairs, she had one with Leon Trotsky. Kahlo also was quite openly bisexual, having same-sex relationships that she didn't hide.
Tropes for Frida and her works:
- Animal Motifs:
- Possibly (depending on who you ask) more obvious in Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, with the hummingbird being a symbol of falling in love (or it's supposed to the be a ref to Aztec war god Huitzilopochtli), the black cat being bad luck, and the spider monkey a symbol of evil (or supposed to represent her husband, who gave her one as a gift).
- The Chick can be taken to represent helplessness.
- Canine Companion: Itzcuintli Dog with Me has Frida with the titular dog.
- Children Are Innocent: Girl with Death Mask implies this as a juxatposition with the girl (probably herself) celebrating Día de Muertos with the Death seeming to be very cruel.
- Death of a Child: The Deceased Dimas features a passed on three year old that Frida and Diego knew.
- Floral Motifs: The wilted orchid in Henry Ford Hospital looks like a uterus.
- Love Hurts: Implied best with Los Dos Fridas, where the "unloved" Frida is pinching a vein (?) with pincers and has an open heart, looking a lot more miserable than the "loved" Frida, whose heart is intact. She painted this after her divorce in 1939.
- Mind Screw: A lot of her artwork (like The Love Embrace of the Universe, the Earth, Mexico, Myself Diego, and Senor Xolotl and Moses) could be what we can describe as "trippy".
- Perpetual Frowner: Frida portrays herself this way in her paintings.
- Ripped from the Headlines: A Few Small Nips was inspired by a case where a man killed his girlfriend and, according to the report, said, "But I just gave her a couple of little nips!"
- Shout-Out: My Birth might have had some influence from 16th sculpture of Tlazolteotl.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Most of her paintings were on the cynical end of this trope, with dark, muted colors and conflicting themes to match. Her last painting Viva la Vida, Watermelons looks more idealistic.
- Tragic Stillbirth: Henry Ford Hospital references this, being painted after her miscarriage.