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Frida’s life began and ended in Mexico City, in her home known as the Blue House.She gave her birthdate as July 7,1910, but her birth certificate shows July 6,1907. This is just one of the many lies Frida told about her life.
At age 6, Frida was stricken with polio, which caused her right leg to appear much thinner than the other. It was to remain that way permanently. When Frida entered high school she was a tomboy full of mischief who became the ringleader of a rebellious group of mainly boys that continually caused trouble in the National Preparatory School. This group pulled many pranks , mainly on professors. It was also in the National Preparitory School that Frida first came in contact with her future husband, the famous Mexican muralist, Diego Rivera. He was commissioned to paint a mural in the school’s auditorium.
On September 17, 1925, at about age 18, Frida Kahlo was involved in a serious bus accident which left her with a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone, broken ribs, a broken pelvis, and 11 fractures in her right leg. In addition her right foot was dislocated and crushed, and her shoulder was out of joint. For a month, Frida was forced to stay flat on her back, encased in a plaster cast and enclosed in a boxlike structure.
Frida’s enormous strength and will to live allowed her to survive and make a remarkable recovery. She began painting shortly after the accident because she was bored in bed. This became her lifelong profession. Although Frida’s recovery was miraculous (she regained her ability to walk), she did have relapses of tremendous pain and fatigue all throughout her life, which caused her to be hospitalized for long periods of time, bedridden at times, and also caused her to undergo numerous operations. She once joked that she held the record for the most operations. Frida underwent about 30 in her lifetime. She also turned to alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes to ease the pain of her physical suffering.
Once she was out and about after her accident, a close friend introduced Frida to the artistic crowd of Mexico, which included Tina Modotti (well known photographer,actress, and communist) and Diego Rivera.
Diego and Frida were married on August 21,1929. Their marriage consisted of love, affairs with other people, creative bonding, hate, and a divorce in 1940 that lasted only for one year. Their marriage has been called the union between an elephant and a dove, because Diego was huge and very fat, and Frida was small (a little over 5 feet) and slender. Below is a picture of Diego Rivera.
Despite Diego’s affairs with other women (one was with Frida’s sister), he helped in many ways. He suggested to Frida that she should begin wearing the traditional Mexican clothing, which consisted of long, colorful dresses and exotic jewelry. This, along with Frida’s thick, connecting eyebrows, became her trademark. He also loved her work and was her greatest admirer. Frida, in turn, was Diego’s most trusted critic, and the love of his life.
Frida let out all of her emotions on a canvas. She painted her anger and hurt over her stormy marriage, the painful miscarriages, and the physical suffering she underwent because of the accident. Frida, despite all of the hurt in her life, was an outgoing person whose vocabulary was filled with 4 letter words. She loved to drink tequila and sing off color songs to guests at the crazy parties she hosted. She loved telling dirty jokes and shocking everyone around her. Frida amazed people with her beauty and everywhere she went, people stopped in their tracks to stare in wonder. Men were fascinated with her, and because of this Frida had numerous, scandal filled affairs.
One affair was with the Communist leader, Leon Trotsky. It began when he was a guest at her home along with his wife. Frida was later arrested for his murder, but was let go. Diego was also under suspicion for the murder, but he was let go as well. Several years after Trotsky’s death, Diego and Frida enjoyed telling people that they invited him to Mexico just to get him killed, but no one knows if they were telling the truth or not. They were fantastic story tellers.
Frida also was a bisexual and had affairs with many women.
All over the world, people loved Frida. When she went to France, she was wined and dined by Picasso, and appeared on the cover of the french Vogue. In America, people loved her beauty and her work. In Mexico, her homeland, she had many great admirers.
Frida only had one exhibition in Mexico and it was in the spring of 1953. Frida’s health was very bad at this time and doctors told her not to attend. Minutes after guests were allowed into the gallery, sirens were heard outside. The crowd went crazy for outside there was an ambulance accompanied by a motorcycle escort. Frida Kahlo was being carried from it into her exhibition on a hospital stretcher! The photographers and reporters were shocked. She was placed in her bed in the middle of the gallery. The mob of people went to greet her. Frida told jokes, entertained the crowd, sang, and drank the whole evening. The exhibition was an amazing success.
During the same year as her exhibition, Frida had to have her right leg amputated below the knee due to a gangrene infection. This caused her to become deeply depressed and suicidal.
She attempted suicide a couple of times. On July 13, 1954, Frida died. No official autopsy was done. Suicide is rumored. Her last words in her diary read “I hope the leaving is joyful and I hope never to return”.
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