Away from the Westerns

For this weeks blog post, I wanted to focus on a specific artist from the mid 1900’s. Frida Kahlo, who is a feminist icon known for her bold, bright, and traditional paintings that usually pushed the political and normal boundaries of her time. Her artwork showcases an array of huipil’s and traditional Mexican dresses along with dry desert like backgrounds. Though she is a personal idol to me, her ambition, braveness, and strength is commendable, for everything she had to put up with because of pain from physical and emotional loss.

Frida’s work consistently shows many elements of art. Ones that spoke out to me were color where she took advantage of bold colors to draw out emotions from the viewers. Value, which told a story of emotion especially what surrounded her and finally, space where she was able to show negative and positive spaces in her paintings. I admire all of her work, her self portraits of raw un photo shopped beauty is something I would love to have on my walls.

Frida Kahlo, who is considered one of Mexico’s greatest artists and is still known as a strong feminist icon. She started painting when she was severely injured in a bus accident were she was impaled by a steel handrail that went through her hip and out of her lower back. The pain she experiences through this accident greatly influenced her artwork which like below showed great pain and suffering. Kahlo was enrolled in the renowned National Preparatory School where she was one of the few female students that were able to attend. She was remembered by her traditional clothes and jewelry along with her jovial spirit. During her time at the academy she often watched Rivera paint the mural called The Creation, with little knowing that he was would be her husband in the future.  Kahlo married Rivera in 1928 and often followed her husband where his commissions took him. Her artistic freedom blossomed but her paintings showed both the beautiful and harsh realties she experienced such as her miscarriage or her husband constant infidelity in their marriage. Even through the upsets, Kahlo remained highly involved in political causes especially towards feminists movements. In 1953, she received her first solo art exhibit in Mexico. During this time, her health began deteriorating quickly with gangrene in her led which was soon amputated and summoning her depression. Then in 1954, she was hospitalized with bronchial pneumonia. Kahlo passed away on July 13th, a week after her 47th birthday, her death was said to be caused by pulmonary embolism but there has been speculation that it was suicide. (Frida Kahlo)

Without hope Frida

Without Hope, 1945

Frida Kahlo painted this piece when she was force fed by the prescription of her doctor. She wrote on the back of the piece, ” Not the least hope remains to me.. Everything move in time with what the belly contains”. During this time we was suffering from a lack of appetite due to her many surgeries and numerous illnesses. (Without Hope)

Created using eddy's pixelmaxx

The Two Fridas, 1939

This piece was painted the year that Rivera and her divorced showing a Frida dressed in a modern European dress of the era that she wore when she married Rivera. The second Frida shows her wearing customary Mexican attire. She often used blood to show a union but in this piece you can see that she is holding scissors and severing the vein between them.  (Kahlo)


The Broken Column, 1944

In this painting she expressed her constant suffering from her surgeries, injuries, and pain. Nails are stuck into her face and body, her body is cracked from what looks like a earthquake fault line, showing a column that appears to be on the verge of crumbling. The painting was originally painted completely nude but Frida later added a what looks to be hospital bed sheet, showing the effects of her surgeries. Some how, through all of the pain, you can see her sheer strength and beauty breaming from her tears.

“Kahlo shared her physical challenges through her art. Around this time, she had several surgeries and wore special corsets to try to fix her back. She would continue to seek a variety of treatments for her chronic physical pain with little success.” (Frida Kahlo)

I wanted to end this blog post with a work of Diego Rivera’s who was Frida Kahlo’s husband. Rivera was one of the most visible Mexican muralists that emerged during the Mexican revolution. He was widely known for his Marxist leanings and held staunch views against the censorship of his work, this also influenced Frida’s lack of filtering on her work as well.


The Abundant Earth, (Date Unknown)

One of the 41 fresco panels painted in the Jesuit chapel in Chapingo. The Abundant Earth shows the development of natural growth from seed to flowering plant. Personally, I think this shows infidelity to Frida, and the many women he continued to lay with throughout their marriage. The painting almost looks like its from the Garden of Eden, and the women are the “serpent” convincing him to keep taking more. (The Abundant Earth)

Without Hope, 1945 by Frida Kahlo. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.
“Frida Kahlo.” A&E Networks Television, 29 Nov. 2016. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.
“Kahlo, The Two Fridas (Las dos Fridas) (article).” Khan Academy. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.
“The Abundant Earth, by Diego Rivera.” The Abundant Earth, by Deigo Rivera. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.


  1. I also did Frida Kahlo for my Non Western Blog. In my opinion she truly is the embodiment of an artist, she pours every feeling and every thought from her body and soul into her art and it is clearly shown. Her art is said to reflect her pain and her fears, with every piece she created I am able to see just that. Another thing I admire about Kahlo is that she never paints herself in the standard way of beauty, she knows who she is and paints herself exactly the way she is. She stays true to who she is as a person and an artist and that’s what I find the most admiring about her. I think that a lot of this empowerment and attitude stems from her rougher childhood/early years from surviving polio, becoming partially paralyzed at the age of 18, and even her political views as an activist in the Mexican Communist Party.


  2. I love Frida Kahlo! I have always considered her to be one of the most interesting people/artists of the last hundred years. I love the pieces you chose. I love how she blends traditional Mexican art styles into her work. Her pieces show a definite connecting to her culture. She uses quick brush strokes that create a sense of hurried chaos. Her work portrays the tearing between the self and society. It appears to be the workings of an unsettled mind. I love this non-western artist. The tumulous marriage between her and Diego Rivera is fascinating to me.


  3. Bridget, your pieces of art were vibrant, colorful, interesting, and so much different than I have seen so far this semester. It was refreshing to know more about an artist I have heard about, though have not seen much of their work other than the piece they are most known for. Although the pictures were a little dark for my liking, I was able to understand the story each one of these paintings tells us.


  4. I have enjoyed your choices of art throughout this semester. They seemingly are always bold, dark, and edgy which I really like. I had never heard of Frida Kahlo before, so this blog was my first introduction, and I can say now that I am a fan! I really like how she integrates traditional Mexican art into her work and shows connections to her own culture. The piece that resonated most with me was “The Broken Column”. Her facial expression shows the frustration and despair of living in constant pain. Similar to her expression in “Without Hope”, it is almost a depressing look at somebody suffering from the various ailments.

    Liked by 1 person

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