With a passionate need to create, artist Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) was born Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón on this day in Mexico City. Her father was a Hungarian-Jewish photographer and her mother, a Mexican of Spanish and Indian descent.
Kahlo had polio as a child. A streetcar accident at eighteen broke her spine in three places and shattered her dreams of becoming a doctor. She used her paint brush and canvas to help numb the desperate pain that she endured for the rest of her life.
"They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn't. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality," she said, her bright Tehuana costumes a tribute to Mexican culture.
With powerful symbolic images and bold colors, the free-spirited Kahlo celebrated life and death through her art, sharing her soul and rage with the world.
Of her art, her famous husband muralist, Diego Rivera, once said, "Frida is the only example in the history of art of an artist who tore open her chest and heart to reveal the biological truth of her feelings."
Her bold self-portraits, with trademark bird-wing eyebrows, are laden with personal meaning and have become immediately recognizable.
With nearly 200 paintings that symbolized her flamboyancy, she was the first Latin American woman to have a painting in the Louvre. Her legend grew after her death. In 1995, her Self Portrait With Monkey and Parrot sold for $3.2 million.
"My painting carries with it the message of pain," she said. "Painting completed my life... I believe that work is the best thing."
More Art & Artists Quotations
Do what you need to do.