Frida Kahlo Part One

Today I am going to open the door to Frida Kahlo.

Still Life with parrot and Flag (Credit:
The Bride Frightened at Seeing Life Opened (Credit:
Fruits of the Earth 1938 (Credit:
Weeping Coconuts or Coconut Tears (Credit:

The main reason I’ve started with Frida’s Still Life paintings is that she was a very complicated character suffering much physical and psychological pain and her other paintings, especially her self portraits illustrate much of this pain so we will edge along gently.

Self Portrait, Dedicated to Dr Eloesser 1940 (Credit:
Self Portrait with Monkeys 1943 (Credit:
Me and My Parrot 1941 (Credit:
Self Portrait with necklace of Thorns (Credit:

If we look at the style used by Frida Kahlo in her paintings you can see it has elements of naive folk art with her attention to detail and the employment of strong colours. Her works have also been labelled Surrealism, Magic Realism and Primitivism. As I have said before, I will deal with Primitivism at a later date but suffice to say Primitivism involves the use of motifs borrowed from non-Western and much earlier times right back to prehistoric peoples. Frida's use of ancient Mexican symbols would move her towards this school.  There is also a tendency to class professional painters who work in a naive style as belonging to primitivism. This would apply to the works of Henri Rousseau.

Frida Kahlo was married to the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera as shown below in one of her paintings. They had a very torrid relationship much of which was expressed by Frida in her paintings. I am sure we will return to examine this at a later date.

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera 1931 (Credit:

Frida Kahlo might not have received a formal grounding in painting but she did receive drawing lessons from her father's friend Fernando Fernandez and she worked for him as an apprentice engraver. She also helped her father in his photography studio. Tomorrow we will go on to look at her more confronting images and the stories behind them.