Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-Chief
Last Modified: 01:43 AM EDT, 18 May 2011
“I paint myself because I am often alone and I am the subject I know best.” – Frida Kahlo
MEXICO – Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo are two painters who lived extraordinary lives defying conventional standards of conduct and mores of their day. Frida was born on July 6, 1907 and died on July 13, 1954 after a long and protracted illness.
Although Frida did not consider herself a surrealist painter, her paintings portray otherwise. Within the universe of her canvases she depicts her emotional and physical pain with exquisite poignancy. Even someone with a cursory knowledge of surrealism can easily decipher the objects of her derision and disgust.
Her physical pain was the result of a trolley accident in which she suffered serious injuries, including a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone, broken ribs, a broken pelvis, eleven fractures in her right leg, a crushed and dislocated right foot, and a dislocated shoulder. Also, an iron handrail pierced her abdomen and her uterus, which seriously damaged her reproductive ability.” (Source: Wikipedia)
As a result, by 1944 Frida’s health had deteriorated to such an extent that she had to wear a steel corset for several months. The straps of the corset held her spine in place but its rigidity left her unable to move and only able to stand upright or lie supine.
The portrait to the left depicts her damaged spine. The nails piercing her face and body represent the physical pain she has endured since her accident. The larger nail piercing her heart represents the emotional pain caused by Diego.
Her relationship with the famed Diego Rivera was renown for its volatility, dramatic arguments and public altercations. Diego had a larger than life personality and was of immense stature and girth. He was also a philanderer.
Diego’s infidelity caused Frida immense suffering. In response Frida would often engage in extra-marital affairs during their many separations. One of her more famous relationship was with the famed dancer and performer Josephine Baker. Frida’s inability to completely sever her relationship with Diego Rivera is in my observation symptomatic of an abused woman.