• gerard van weyenbergh

Did you know about Frida Kahlo?

1/ She gave a false date of birth.

Frida Kahlo was born on July 6, 1907, in the Blue House in Coyoacán, a bourgeois district in the south of Mexico - the house is the artist's current museum. Why then does she lie from 1922 by rejuvenating herself by three years on her civil status, because 1910 corresponds to the Mexican Revolution's start! The movement, instigated by Francisco Madero and marked by Emiliano Zapata's figure, led to the downfall of Porfirio Díaz and his authoritarian regime. Through her early political engagement - which would translate into joining the Communist Party in 1928 - Frida Kahlo made the event a second birth.

2/ Her father was German.

Carl Wilhelm Kahlo, the artist's father, was born in Baden, Germany, in 1871. He moved to Mexico twenty years later, where he changed his name to Guillermo. Frida is a Germanic first name synonymous with peace. There is no Saint Frida on the calendar; it could only be the third name, after Magdalena and Carmen, eligible names for baptism. Through her mother Matilde Calderón y González, Frida Kahlo also has Spanish and Native American origins. Very attached to her parents, proud of her inbreeding, Frida claims it in a painted family tree, where the maternal roots are linked to the earth, and the paternal blood is associated with the wind.

3/ She should have been a doctor.

According to her first wish, Frida Kahlo should have been known as a scientist and not an artist. In her youth, natural sciences attracted her even more than the art to which her photographer father initiated her. With immense pride that at fifteen years old, in 1922, she joined the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria, becoming one of the 35 girls among some 2000 students of the prestigious establishment. She dreams of becoming a doctor, but her health problems decide otherwise: suffering from polio at the age of six, Frida is disabled for life. In 1925, a terrible bus accident immobilized her for months. Operated about thirty times until she died in 1954, she will especially know medicine as a patient.

© Fridakahlo.org

4/ She had an affair with Leon Trotsky.

If the extra-marital escapades of Diego Rivera are well known, Frida Kahlo had the answer, not hesitating to maintain relations with men as with women. In January 1937, Mexico granted political asylum to Leon Trotsky, a figure of the Russian Revolution of 1917, now condemned in his country at the time of the Stalinist purges. Communists but defiant of Stalin, Diego and Frida, welcomed the Ukrainian and his wife for two years in the Casa Azul in Coyoacán, where a space converted into a fortress was reserved for them. Léon and Frida, separated by 28 years, become lovers. A brief but intense adventure that will end without brilliance since the artist marks this term by offering a self-portrait to the revolutionary, Entre les rideaux also said Self-portrait dedicated to Leon Trotsky, accompanied by a fiery dedication. The revolutionary left the work behind when he moved in 1939, a few months before his assassination by Ramón Mercader.

5/ She painted more self-portraits than Rembrandt and Van Gogh.

It was indeed when she was bedridden in 1925 that Kahlo started painting. She asks that a large mirror be installed on the ceiling in order to be able to capture her image. When we talk about self-portraits, Rembrandt's names (47 self-portraits) and Van Gogh (37 self-portraits) immediately come to mind. The Mexican surpasses the Dutch since she produced 55, more than a third of her production. She represents herself alone or in pairs, in her room or in the jungle. Far from idealizing her image, Frida Kahlo exposes in this series the tragedies that forged her, from miscarriages to painful operations.

6/ She hated Paris and the surrealists

In September 1938, Frida Kahlo met André Breton during his stay in Mexico. Breton describes Kahlo and Rivera's painting as "a ribbon around a bomb". The Mexican artist bonds with the founder of Surrealism and even more with his wife, Jacqueline Lamba. For an exhibition, she went to Paris the following year but found the city dirty and took an aversion to the surrealists she described as a "bunch of lunatic sons of bitches". She refuses to be the exotic guarantee of the movement, whose views she does not share at all: "I have never painted dreams. What I represented was my reality." Beaux Arts Magazine VIDEO