She was a tequila-slamming, dirty-joke telling bi-sexual who hobbled about in colorful indigenous dresses and threw wild dinner parties for the likes of Leon Trotsky, poet Pablo Neruda, Nelson Rockefeller and her on-again, off-again husband, muralist Diego Rivera.
Frida Kahlo certainly deserved to party. The great artist spent most of her life suffering enormous pain, inflicted first by a serious bus accident, then by a tempestuous love affair with Diego.
Frida had already survived polio, but at 18, she suffered a more lasting devastation as a result of a bus accident in Mexico City, where she was studying medicine. The impact shattered her pelvis and caused multiple fractures to her spine and ribs. She spent over a year in multiple casts staring at a blank canvas – the white ceiling above her. It was here, caged in a plaster cast, that Frida began to paint. She started painting on her own body cast and then took her visceral, pain-filled colorful images onto much larger canvases. The rest is history.
It wasn’t long before Kahlo became a respected artist, but her fame was over-shadowed when, at 22, she married Diego Rivera, the famous Mexican muralist, who was twenty years her senior.
Their wayward, passionate relationship survived infidelities, career pressures, divorce, remarriage, poor health and finally her inability to have children. Frida once said: “I suffered two grave accidents in my life…One in which a streetcar knocked me down and the other was Diego.”
During her lifetime, Frida created over 200 paintings, 55 of them self-portraits. In 1953, Kahlo had her first solo exhibition in Mexico. Against doctor’s orders, she arrived in an ambulance and was wheeled in on a stretcher-bed so she could celebrate with guests and horizontally swill champagne.
Today, more than half a century after her death, her iconic paintings are highly sought after, fetching prices that would’ve paid for those awesome tequila-filled dinner parties, and more. Her work and many of her personal belongings are on display in her house, La Casa Azul (The Blue House), in Coyoacan, Mexico.
Text by Howard Collinge- The Unique Creatures