• Holly

Frida - a love story

Bijgewerkt: jun 3

Like so many of us, I find Frida and her life and work fascinating. She battled so much adversity, chronic debilitating pain and yet managed to channel it in her creativity and her incredible paintings. They explored her multiple identities, her pain, love life, Mexican culture and the politics around her. She loved animals and had many pets, among which this fawn. Another sketch of mine brings together themes that she explored in her own paintings with a touching photograph from a series of her with a little boy. Frida was unable to have children of her own after the tram accident in 1925. The third drawing is simply a portrait from a striking photograph showing her with typical jewellery and one of her famous flower crowns.

The following text is taken from the website of The Cobra Museum of Modern Art in Amstelveen, whose exhibition about Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera can be seen from the 28th May to the 26th September 2021:


The Cobra Museum of Modern Art is exhibiting a special private collection of top art from Mexico, which has never been shown in the Netherlands before. In addition to paintings by Frida Kahlo (Mexico, 1907-1954), a selection of drawings and photographs will also be on display. The exhibition Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera: A Love Revolution offers the opportunity to discover the world of the world-famous Mexican modernists.


Frida Kahlo: the pioneer Frida Kahlo (Mexico, 1907-1954) is currently the most famous woman artist in the world. Kahlo was one of the daughters of a Mexican mother and a German photographer who had emigrated to Mexico. She studied art as a young woman, but was seriously injured in a tram accident in 1925 at the age of eighteen. She would be suffering from the physical damage caused by this accident for the rest of her life. Sometimes she is called the selfie-queen of the twentieth century, because she is best known for her self-portraits. Kahlo was a radical, talented, disabled, bi-cultural and bisexual woman whose legacy continues to inspire many worldwide.


As a student, Frida Kahlo became involved in the communist party, and spoke out against religion, fascism and class society. She maintained (extramarital) relationships with women and men in Catholic Mexico. She couldn’t care less about prevailing beauty ideals, and emphasised her eyebrows and facial hair. Her colourful dresses were inspired by the traditional dresses from the isthmus of Tehuantepec in the state of Oaxaca, an area in which women control economic activities. Kahlo painted her mental and physical pain, but also the discomforts that only women experience, such as menstrual pain, miscarriages, infertility: subjects that were not discussed in public at the beginning of the last century, let alone painted.

Frida Kahlo’s work only received the recognition it deserves after her death, and her status as a feminist, free-spirited icon committed to the working class – especially women’s rights – only came later. Kahlo was very self-assured and outspoken about her multiple identity in both her life and art. With her life and work she fits in well with contemporary feminism, in which special attention is paid to intersectionality: a view that advocates emancipation in more areas than just gender.


Love story In 1929, Frida Kahlo married one of the most famous Mexican painters, the muralist Diego Rivera. Rivera’s grand personality, revolutionary politics and inspiring murals made him a celebrity during his lifetime. Both Kahlo and Rivera had extramarital affairs. The relationship between Kahlo and Rivera was intense and in addition to mutual admiration for each other’s artistic qualities, they shared many interests: communism, the socialist ideals of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1917) and the birth of a national Mexican identity with a passion for Mexican cultures and history before the Spanish colonisation of the immense country in 1521. Together they formed an intriguing artist couple with a fascinating oeuvre, made during a revolutionary period in Mexican history.