Friday, 7 January 2011

Friday quotes - Frida Kahlo

"I don't paint dreams or nightmares.
I paint my own reality"

Frida Kahlo

I am a great admirer of Frida Kahlo and her work and have always wanted to do a post on her.  There has been so much written about Frida there is no point me writing something from scratch so I have incorporated sections of text found on and to accompany the quotes and pictures.  I don't want to give everything away as the film Frida is one of my favourites and if you haven't seen it, do!

I chose to use Frida Kahlo's quotes not because they are witty but because I think they are powerful and inspirational, just like she was.


One of the most significant artists of the twentieth century.  Frida Kahlo was born in Mexico in 1907.  She used her intensely personal and vibrant paintings to express her experiences of love, life, pain and death during her short and very eventful life.  More than half of her work is self portraits often using shocking depictions of herself and her preoccupation with death.

At the age of six she contracted Polio which left her with one leg thinner than the other and one of her feet deformed.   She wore long colourful dresses to hide this and was famous for wearing Tehuana costumes wherever she went.

At eighteen she was seriously injured when a trolley car hit a bus she was travelling on with her boyfriend.  She spent over a year in bed recovering from fractures to her spine, collarbone, ribs, a shattered pelvis, shoulder, eleven fractures in her right leg and was unable to have children after an iron handrail pierced her uterus.  Over the years she endured more than thirty operations and was in constant pain for the rest of her life.

Courtesy of the Dolores Olmedo Foundation, Mexico
The Bus, 1929

During her convalescence she began to paint.  Her paintings, mostly self-portraits and still life, were deliberately naïve, and filled with the colours and forms of Mexican folk art and symbolism.  She frequently painted monkeys which Mexican mythology monkeys are a symbol of lust.

At twenty two she married the famous Mexican artist Diego Rivera, she was his third wife and he was twenty years her senior.  He wasn't good looking but he must have had something as he never seemed short of women!  Their stormy, passionate relationship survived many infidelities and her inability to have children, although she became pregnant and miscarried a number of times.

Frida and Diego, 1932

Diego was unable to be faithful to anyone and Frida retaliated by having affairs of her own.  Openly bisexual she had affairs with both men and women, including Josephine Baker, artist Georgia O'Keeffe and allegedly actresses Dolores Del Rio, Paulette Goddard.  The couple eventually divorced in November 1939, but remarried in December 1940.  Their second marriage was as turbulent as the first and their living quarters often were separate, although sometimes adjacent.

Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, Mexico
The Two Fridas, 1939

Picasso and Kandinsky were great fans of Frida's art and Diego was a constant supporter.  Diego wrote this glowing recommendation to a friend about an early exhibition of her work: "I recommend her to you, not as a husband but as an enthusiastic admirer of her work, acid and tender, hard as steel and delicate and fine as a butterfly's wing, lovable as a beautiful smile, and as profound and cruel as the bitterness of life."

Courtesy of the Hoover Gallery, San Francisco
My Dress Hangs There, 1933

At the invitation of French poet and founder of Surrealism André Breton, she went to France in 1939 and was featured at an exhibition of her paintings in Paris.  The Louvre bought one of her paintings, The Frame, which was displayed at the exhibit.  This was the first work by a 20th century Mexican artist ever purchased by the internationally renowned museum.  André Breton  wrote admiringly "The art of Frida Kahlo is like a ribbon around a bomb."

Courtesy of the Tlaxcalteca Institute of Culture, Mexico
La Adelita, Pancho Villa and Frida, 1927

Courtesy of the Tlaxcalteca Institute of Culture, Mexico
Portrait of Miguel N. Lira, 1927

Frida had huge lust for life.  She had a seductive effect on many people and charmed everyone.  People loved her beauty, personality, and talent.  She was also known for her dark sense of humour and sharp wit.  Frida loved dancing, drinking and parties.  She took great pride in keeping a home for Diego and loved looking after him.  She lavished attention on her pets - mischievous spider monkeys, dogs, cats and birds and adored children.  She loved nonsense, gossip and dirty jokes and  abhorred pretension.  She treated servants like family and students like esteemed colleagues. What she valued most was honesty - She once wrote to a former lover (who allegedly had jilted her because of her physical infirmities), "You deserve the best, the very best, because you are one of the few people in this lousy world who are honest to themselves, and that is the only thing that really counts."

Courtesy of the Collection of Mr and Mrs Harold H. Stream, New Orleans
Me and My Parrots, 1944

Courtesy of a bequest by A. Conger Goodyear to the Albright Knox Art Gallery, New York
Self Portrait with a monkey, 1938

Courtesy of the Private Collection of Madonna
Self Portrait with Monkey, 1940

Courtesy of the Harry Ransom Art Collection, University of Texas
Self Portrait with Monkey, Necklace of Thorns and Hummingbird, 1940

Active communists, Kahlo and Rivera befriended the great Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky as he sought political asylum in Mexico from Joseph Stalin's regime in the Soviet Union during the late 1930s. In 1937 initially, Trotsky lived with Rivera and then with Frida where the two began an affair.

A gift from the Honorable Clare Boothe Luce to the National Museum of Women in the Arts
Self Portrait dedicated to Leon Trotsky, 1937

Frida has been described as "One of history's grand divas… a tequila-slamming, dirty joke-telling smoker, bi-sexual that hobbled about her bohemian barrio in lavish indigenous dress and threw festive dinner parties for the likes of Leon Trotsky, poet Pablo Neruda, Nelson Rockefeller, and her on-again, off-again husband, muralist Diego Rivera."

Courtesy of the Collection of Jacques and Natasha Gelman, Mexico
Diego in My Thoughts, 1943

Frida's health had been deteriorating for some time and she was addicted to morphine for the pain.  In early July 1954, she made her last public appearance when she participated in a Communist street demonstration.  Soon after, on July 13th, 1954, at the age of 47, Frida died.  It is widely believed that she committed suicide, possibly aided by Diego.  Her death certificate records the cause of death as a pulmonary embolism, although an autopsy was never performed.

Once when asked what to do with her body when she dies, Frida replied: "Burn it…I don't want to be buried.  I have spent too much time lying down already…Just burn it!"

The last public picture of Frida and Diego together, April, 1954

On the day after her death, mourners gathered to witness the cremation of Mexico's greatest and most shocking painter.  Soon to be an international icon, Frida Kahlo knew how to give her fans one last unforgettable goodbye.  As the cries of her admirers filled the room, a sudden blast of heat from the open incinerator doors caused her body to sit bolt upright.  Her hair, now on fire from the flames, blazed around her head like a halo.  Her lips seemed to break into a seductive grin just as the doors closed.  Her last diary entry read: "I hope the exit is joyful - and I hope never to return.  Frida."

Courtesy of the Collection of Selma and Nesuhi Ertegun, New York
The Dream (The Bed), 1940

Her ashes were placed in a pre-Columbian urn that Diego lovingly wrapped in a red cloth and carried to the crematorium.  It is now display in the "Blue House" that she shared with Rivera.  While pouring Frida's ashes into the pot he expressed his own last wishes to the mourners who accompanied him: "It won't take me long to join Frida… I've kept this pot for quite some time for our ashes."

On November 24 1957, Diego Rivera died of heart failure in his San Angel studio.  He was buried in the 'Rotunda of Famous Men' in Mexico City, in contradiction to his express wishes that he be cremated and his ashes mixed with Frida's.  Diego's last will and testament specified that his body was to be cremated and his ashes were to be mixed with those of Frida's and their ashes were to be kept in the Blue House in Coyoacán.  However, Diego's two daughters and his wife at the time refused to respect his last wishes. They felt that it was in the best interest of the nation for him to be buried in the 'Rotunda of Famous Men' in Mexico City.

Courtesy of the Collection of Dolores Omedo Patino, Mexico
Thinking About Death, 1943

One year after her death, Rivera gave the house to the Mexican government to become a museum and on July 12th, 1958, the “Blue House” was officially opened as the Museo Frida Kahlo.

Today, more than half a century after her death, her paintings fetch more money than any other female artist.  A visit to the Museo Frida Kahlo is like taking a step back in time.  All of her personal affects are displayed throughout the house and everything seems to be just as she left it.  One gets the feeling that she still lives there but has just briefly stepped out to allow you to tour her private sanctuary.

The paintings she left told the story of her life along with as a collection of effusive letters to lovers and friends, and colorfully candid journal entries. All are irrefutable evidence that her life was nothing less than a quest to be honest to herself.  She is gone but her legacy will live on forever.


The film of Frida's life is one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen.  Salma Hayek gives a powerhouse performance as Frida and Alfred Molina is brilliant as Diego. 

Stunningly directed by Julie Taymor it was nominated for seven Oscars, and deservedly so.  If you haven't seen it already you must.  It's amazing.

Available to buy for £3.50 here


Quotes by Frida Kahlo

Courtesy of private collection bequest of Alejandro Arias, Mexico
Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress, 1926

"I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best"

Courtesy of private collection, Iowa, USA
Self Portrait with Loose Hair, 1947

"I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration"

Courtesy of private collection, Boston, Massachussets
Self Portrait, 1930

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

Courtesy of the Collection of Dolores Omedo Patino, Mexico
The Broken Column, 1944

"My painting carries with it the message of pain" 

Courtesy of the Collection of Daniel Filiacci, Paris, France
Tree of Hope Remain Strong, 1946

"Painting completed my life"

 Courtesy of the Collection of Carolyn Farb, Houston, Texas
The Wounded Deer, 1946

"People in general are scared to death of the war and all the exhibitions have been a failure, because the rich don't want to buy anything" 

Courtesy of the Collection of Jacques an Natasha Gelman, Mexico
The Love Embrace of the Universe, the Earth (Mexico), Myself, Diego and Señor Xolotl, 1949

"Diego was everything; my child, my lover, my universe"

From the collection of Albert M. Bender, Museum of Modern Art
Frida and Diego Rivera, 1931

"I cannot speak of Diego as my husband because that term, when applied to him, is an absurdity.  He never has been, nor will he ever be, anybody’s husband"

Courtesy of the Collection of Jacques an Natasha Gelman, Mexico
Portrait of Diego Rivera, 1937

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

"I drank to drown my sorrows,
but the damned things learned how to swim"

A gift from an anonymous donor to the Phoenix Art Museum
The Suicide of Dorothy Hale, 1939

The inscription reads: "In the city of New York on the twenty-first day of the month of October, 1938, at six o'clock in the morning, Mrs. Dorothy Hale committed suicide by throwing herself out of a very high window of the Hampshire House building. In her memory this retablo, executed by Frida Kahlo." *The words "Commissioned by Mrs. Clare Booth Luce" were painted out of the legend by Noguchi at Luce's request after Kahlo delivered the commission*

Courtesy of a private collection.  On loan to the Museum of Fine Arts, Texas
Moses, 1945

"I think that little by little I'll be able to solve my problems and survive" 

Courtesy of the Collection of Daniel Filipacchi, Paris, France
What the Water Gave Me, 1938

"Feet, what do I need them for when I have wings to fly?"

Courtesy of the Collection of Mary Anne Martin, New York
Diego and I, 1949

"I love you more than my own skin"

Nightmare of War, Dream of Peace
Mural by Diego Rivera, 1952

"I hope the exit is joyful.
And I hope never to return"

Frida Kahlo

I loved seeing her here.

To see more of  'Friday quotes' click HERE

When I think about what she went through, I realise my life is so simple.
Have a wonderful weekend


Simone said...

Absolutely fascinating, I thought I knew quite a bit about her but there was lots here I didn't know.

There is a Mum in my daughter's class who dresses as Frida every day! I've never really asked her why Frida!!

Happy week-end! Xx

Christina @ Fashion's Most Wanted said...

Dear Simone, wow! How brilliant to dress like that every day!

You absolutely MUST see the film. I loved it. I can post you my copy if you like.

Have a great weekend too xx

Rose C'est La Vie said...

You've told me much more than I knew about this splendid woman and her poignant but powerful life.
thanks Christina.

Anonymous said...

I have been giving my credit card a bashing at Amazon with all your movie and TV show recs.


Helga! said...

Christina,I adore Frida, and got to go to the Blue House a couple of years ago!!! The movie is amazing,I love the soundtrack.What an inspirational woman!!!
Ooo,imagine dressing like her everyday!! She had great style!

Dash said...

Love this post Christina, I adore Frida Kahlo, have the film and various books. I often wonder what sort of paintings she would have done if she had not been in so much pain every day of her life, she might not have painted at all, funny how so much suffering can produce so much wonderful creativity. I also adore her sense of personal style, she was unique.
Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

That's Not My Age said...

'I love you more than my own skin.' Excellent quote, so powerful.

Caroline, No. said...

Thanks Christina, I didn't know as much about her as I should. What an inspiring woman. Just ordered the film. x

MyStyle said...

Hi Christina-what a fabulous post, I so enjoyed this, I too love Frida, but still not have seen the film, I must get this very soon. Her paintings and lifestyle are just legendary and colourful and this is a fabulous tribute post of her life and works, thanks so much for sharing. Wishing you a great weekend too! xx

sacramento said...

I am also facinated by Frida, her life and her work.
People who are trueand always translate and touch hearts.
Mil besos Christina for this wonderful saturday present.

MilaneseGAL said...

Dear Christina, your Frida post is fantastic! Quite a few pictures that I have not seeing before! What a life she had, you are right in saying that our lives are simple compared to what she had going on. I loved every minute of the movie. Selma did an amazing job. Imagine when she went to NYC... How different she was from the rest of the women back then....
A bug hug, I am back on this side if the Ocean.
Ps I love the picture of Helga!
All my love, M

Penny Dreadful said...

Thanks Christina, there were lots of photos and paintings here I hadn't seen before. She was such a powerful and yet tragic woman. What is interesting is that at the time, Diego was much more famous than she was (hence the burial issue), but now he is more often know as Frida's husband than an artist in his own right.

Her work reminds me of this quote from Memoirs of a Geisha:

"At that moment, beauty itself struck me as a kind of painful melancholy"

I wrote that down when I first read it because it seemed so true. And when you think of that line in conjunction with Frida's paintings... they are so sad, and painful, but that is where much of the beauty lies. Aren't we human beings an odd bunch? xx

Fay said...

Hi Christina I love Frida too I have all the books Dvd etc exhibitons She is a wonderul and complex person great read again today Thankyou fay xxx

Vintage Vixen said...

Dear Christina, other than her instantly recognisable artistic style I knew very little about Frieda until I met Helga through blogging and her love of her got me intriuged.
I watched Frieda last saturday, it has to be one of the most visually stunning films I've seen for years. I was captivated throughout.
Great post. xxx

Slim Paley said...

Wow- what an amazing, well documented and interesting post! you must have had a hard time trying to decide what beautiful image to end with :)
I know I'm awful for saying this, but could Diego possibly have been any more unattractive?! and he was difficult and often cruel to her?? yikes. I have not seen the film, but I would like to now. So fascinating to me the indignities people are willing to endure in the name of love...

Anonymous said...

What an exceptional post. I knew very little about Frida Kahlo; I will now look out for more information ...

Thank you

sooze said...

Great post - I love Frida Kahlo, but have never seen the film... I will get onto it asap. Thanks x

Make Do Style said...

She was one hell of a woman but I didn't realise the extent of her pain. I've always been a fan of her work but didn't know the full extent of her story only the wild gossipy bits! xx

Ruby Tuesday said...

I have seen the film but have forgotten so much.. I must watch again .. some wonderful art here . I love anything Mexican .. apart from the Cartels xx

Reggie Darling said...

Excellent post. Very well-researched and written, and I learned a lot about this fascinating person. Okay, I'm not going to make the wisecrack I was thinking about regarding her unibrow. I have to say, it looks good on her, and that is saying a lot, indeed. Reggie

PopArtRockGirlYeah! said...

Thank you Christina for writing such a beautiful post. Frida Kahlo is one of my favourites artists and your writing on the subject is very moving x

Ms. Style Bones said...

Dear Christina;

Lovely article...very well written. Thanks for the post!

God Bless,


Ms. Style Bones

Alice said...

Great post! Great blog! It's always rewarding to encounter bloggers who still have the drive to put on extensive information and review for their readers, rather than just rambling about their lives. Frida is my new inspiration :)

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lady noir said...

love her, and love her work. truly inspiring

silje said...

Very good post!! :)

i borrowed a photo in my blog ,

Pippa said...

I too admire Frida and love the movie. Was just given a cool card for my birthday .!/photo.php?fbid=2061576708281&set=a.2061576428274.2126131.1510612654&type=1&theater

AliceAlice said...

Really interesting, thanks. such a good blog.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic, beautifully set out, Check out this website an artist in the West Country having an exhibition of her work at The Ashton Court Bristol Hayloft very soon this month.
The Exhibition shows the artists depictions of Frida Kahlo's work together with celebrations of Day of the Dead.. Much more info on website.

Jimmy Trickle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jimmy Trickle said...

Beautiful post. I adore Frida and appreciate the effort you have put into this story of her life.

Although a work of fiction, you may enjoy the book "The Lacuna" by Barbara Kingsolver - Frida makes a wonderful guest appearance.


Anonymous said...

You wrote a very interesting article. And I agree with you. hair loss

Shachi Sharma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Natya d'Avelino said...

Good article, wonderful photos. Great photo of Frida and Diego kissing, most of all in presence of the other photos and images you have chosen.

Natya d'Avelino said...

I'm not going to see the film.
The paintings I would have liked.
I didn't see their paintings in Paris.
Rather, I would have liked to have been there everyday each day of the exposition, studying and learning. (I would have gone immediately at start, to begin with)

AMAZING enough, I only saw it in the internet few — too few — days ago.