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Frida Kahlo: 1907—1954: Artist Biography

Affected By Mexican Revolution, Suffered A Miscarriage, Madonna Collected Kahlo Works

Frida Kahlo: 1907—1954: Artist.

One primary impetus behind modernist movements in art is masculine and impersonal: many artists of the 20th century sought to smash rules and stylistic barriers and to break through to new principles of composition and subject matter. In the work of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, however, modernist breakthroughs were placed at the service of artistic autobiography. Kahlo lived a short life that was dramatic in the extreme and found a new visual language to express her experiences on canvas. An artist of only moderate repute during her own lifetime, Kahlo gained new admirers at the century's end.

One of six sisters, Kahlo was born Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón in Coyoacán, Mexico, near Mexico City, on July 6, 1907. The complexities of her life began with her family background: her father was a photographer of German and Hungarian Jewish ancestry, and her mother, Matilde Calderón, was a Mexican native, of mixed Spanish and Indian background, with little formal education and a strong devotion to the Catholic religion that caused friction between mother and daughter. Kahlo was always closer to her father, who encouraged her artistic pursuits, but throughout her life she identified herself with Native American culture; some scholars have interpreted her art in terms of an effort to reconcile the varied influences brought to bear during her childhood.

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