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Frida Kahlo | The Thorned Princess

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

Frida Kahlo, Self-PortraitMEXICO – 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 Broken Column, 1944for 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.

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About Ayanna Nahmias

Ayanna Nahmias was interviewed on Radio Netherlands Worldwide program titled 'The State We’re In,' about her life in Africa and her determination to transcend her past. She started the Nahmias Cipher Report to provide information to readers about life in emerging economies, and to provide alternative insight into the challenges faced by women and children living in these countries. The blog features stories from around the world to inspire other people to persevere and triumph in the face of great adversity. She blogs about current events in emerging economies, international politics, human rights abuses, women’s rights and child advocacy.

View all posts by Ayanna Nahmias

15 Comments on “Frida Kahlo | The Thorned Princess”

  1. Ben Leib Says:

    Interesting interpretation of two canonized Latin American painters. I don’t know if I agree though. By casting Frida as a sufferer of abuse (emotional in this case) I think you risk delimiting her in a role once again subsequent to Diego, her more historically recognized husband. Not only that, but you risk jeopardizing her agency, possibly implying that she’d been rendered incapable of making decisions that included staying with her husband, and even implying that she would have produced better work without him. It’s an interesting article, just putting another opinion on the table.

    Reply

  2. artzent Says:

    I also saw the movie and still cannot stand the male lead. She was a wonderful creative artist and did not deserve the hard life that she lived. Thank you for this awesome post!

    Reply

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