Self-assured, politically driven and sexually liberated, Frida Kahlo’s influence so very nearly went undiscovered; vocal in her leftist ideals and unafraid to go against the grain in a time of political and social oppression, her punkish nature continues to inspire and empower.
The view of her thus far has been one of contrast, from media surrounding her marriage (and divorce and remarriage) and affairs, through which she primarily became known, to her repeated, almost obsessive, depiction of her own self image, giving us an insight into the world through her eyes. “Most artists paint to see, but Kahlo painted to be seen,” says American art critic Deborah Soloman, who suggests her self portraiture was much more than a means of solitary reflection, but a way for the artist to communicate with the world she was so often detached from, something that seems more relevant now than ever, in the age of self-promotion where ‘selfie’ is a now recognised mental disorder.
“I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best,” she once said, her pursuit developing as a means of whiling away the hours spent alone in recuperation following a severe bus accident (in which she suffered a broken spinal column, collarbone, ribs, pelvis, eleven fractures in her right leg, a crushed and dislocated right foot, and a dislocated shoulders) which left her immobile and restricted to her bed.
“From someone who is ill, one doesn’t expect such an explosion of vitality,” says Mexican writer Carlos Monsiváis, in PBS’ The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo. “That was Frida’s great scandal: not what she said or who she slept with, but rather a sick person who refuses to resign herself to be covered with the veil of pity.”
To celebrate birthday of the groundbreaking and continually inspiring artist, Sang Bleu have made a selection of her personal photos, a final view of the artist’s life by those immediately surrounding her, taken from the Museum of Latin American Art’s touring exhibition Frida Kahlo: Her Photos.