Frida Kahlo: A journey into her paintings!

Frida Kahlo

Do you know anyone who has not heard the name Frida Kahlo? Frida is a Mexican painter and one of the most famous women in contemporary art history. Definitely one of the reasons that has made Frida so well known is her beautiful self-portraits.

But what made Frida and her paintings so popular? We are here today to get to know Frida Kahlo and her work better. Let’s travel to the interior land of Frida Kahlo together:

Frida Kahlo; surrealist painter

Frida’s father was a famous German painter and photographer. Frida probably inherited her painting talent from her father. Frida’s father had taken many portraits of her from childhood to adulthood. In fact, Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits were a continuation of her father’s portraits of her.

Frida Kahlo, a medical student, turned to painting due to an accident and permanent injuries to her legs, back, pelvis and uterus. In fact, it can be said that the accident that Frida had at the age of 18 changed her life forever as a painter.

Black and white image of young Frida Kahlo

In addition, Frida Kahlo’s paintings are a reflection of her personal life, events and experiences. Her attention to women’s issues and her best portrayal of her paintings made her a feminist figure. Moreover, her emphasis on the suffering and sorrow in her works brings the audience with her, and in doing so, the audience understands Frida better.

While most who saw Kahlo’s paintings considered them surreal. But Frida Kahlo never considered her work surreal, believing that “I kill my own realism.” However, even today some of her works are known as surreal works.

Rest time: Frida spent all her childhood, adolescence and the last years of her life in her father’s house. A house known as the Blue House (because of the color of its walls). The house, located in Quioacan, a suburb of Mexico City, is now the Frida Kahlo Museum.

Picture of Frida Kahlo's father's house with blue walls

The meaning of the color of Frida Kahlo’s paintings

If you look at Kahlo’s paintings. The first thing that catches your eye are the colors. Because her paintings are rich in energetic, vibrant and bright colors. Frida herself has written in her daily memoirs the meaning of some of the colors used in her paintings. Let’s see:

Magenta: Aztec symbol. Old TLAPALLI blood of prickly pear, the brightest and oldest.

Cobalt Blue: The symbol of electricity and purity love.

Navy Blue: The symbol of distance. Also tenderness can be this blue.

Dark Green: A symbol of bad advertisements and good business.

Green: Symbol of good warm light.

Leaf Green: The symbol of leaves, sadness, science, the whole of Germany is this color.

Greenish Yellow: The symbol of more madness and mystery. All the ghosts wear clothes of this color, or at least their underclothes.

Yellow: The symbol of madness, sickness and fear. Part of the sun and of joy.

Red: A symbol of blood? …. Well, who knows!

Brown: Mole symbol, leaves becoming earth.

Black: Symbol of nothing. Nothing is black – really nothing.

A sculpture made from Frida Kahlo in a museum
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The world of Frida Kahlo’s paintings

I said earlier that Frida herself is the center of most of her work. In fact, it can be said that most of Frida’s works are drawings mixed with symbolic meaning.

In the following, we will see Frida’s famous paintings along with their color palette and the reason for their creation.

1.  Frieda and Diego Rivera painting

Frida Kahlo painted the painting after her marriage to Rivera, showing her interest in traditional Mexican culture by drawing herself in Mexican folk costume.

Frida Kahlo painting: Frida Kahlo - Frieda and Diego Rivera (1931) with color palette made by Dopely color extractor
Frida Kahlo – Frieda and Diego Rivera (1931)

2.  Henry Ford Hospital painting

This painting is one of Frida Kahlo’s most terrifying paintings. Because at that time, Frida, in addition to losing her mother, also had her second abortion.

Frida Kahlo painting: Frida Kahlo - Henry Ford Hospital (1932) with color palette made by Dopely color extractor
Frida Kahlo – Henry Ford Hospital (1932)

3.  My Birth painting

In this terrifying painting, Frida depicts a taboo scene of a shrouded woman giving birth. In fact, this is how she portrayed her abortion again.

Frida Kahlo painting: Frida Kahlo - My Birth (1932) with color palette made by Dopely color extractor
Frida Kahlo – My Birth (1932)

4.  The Two Fridas painting

Because of the marital problems and the many relationships that Frida and Diego had with other people. Eventually their marriage ended in divorce. This led to the drawing of this dual self-portrait. In this painting, there are two Fridas in two different dresses. On the left, there is Frida in a classic and European wedding dress, and on the right, there is Frida in a local Mexican dress.

The left Frida’s heart is injured and bleeding while the right Frida’s heart is healthy and even supplies blood to the left Frida and the small Rivera in her left hand through the arteries attached to them. This work is the most important painting of Frida Kahlo.

Frida Kahlo painting: Frida Kahlo - The Two Fridas (1939) with color palette made by Dopely color extractor
Frida Kahlo – The Two Fridas (1939)

5.  Dorothy Hale Suicide painting

Well, this painting shows the tragic suicide of Dorothy Hale, who was an actress at the time. Claire Luce, a friend of Hale, asked Frida to paint a picture of Hale to keep her memory alive. Because Hale had committed suicide by jumping from a building earlier that year. But contrary to Luce’s expectations, the painting that Kahlo eventually painted was not a portrait and this annoyed Luce.

Frida Kahlo painting: Frida Kahlo - The Suicide of Dorothy Hale (1938) with color palette made by Dopely color extractor
Frida Kahlo – The Suicide of Dorothy Hale (1938)

6.  Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird painting

In fact, Frida showed her physical and mental pain with the paintings she painted. The same is true of self-portrait. In this picture, a barbed wire necklace is hung around her neck, which has a pendant of a dead hummingbird, which is a symbol of freedom. A black monkey sitting on Frida’s right shoulder is pulling most of these barbed wire. And there’s a black cat on Frida’s left shoulder standing in ambush for a hummingbird.

Frida Kahlo painting: Frida Kahlo - Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird (1940) with color palette made by Dopely color extractor
Frida Kahlo – Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird (1940)

7.  The Broken Column painting

This work shows the greatest suffering of Frida Kahlo. The pain that accompanied Frida from the accident. In the picture, we see that a cracked stone column has replaced Frida’s spine. Nails have sunk all over her face and body and tears have been shed on her face. All of this shows the pain that Frida has suffered since the accident.

Frida Kahlo painting: Frida Kahlo - The Broken Column (1944) with color palette made by Dopely color extractor
Frida Kahlo – The Broken Column (1944)

8.  The Wounded Deer painting

Frida’s face replaces a wounded deer head in a painting. The deer has been wounded by numerous arrows and is bleeding. As I said before, symbolism has been very common in Frida’s work. Some believe that deer in the Aztec culture means the right foot. The deer injured in this painting may mean that Frida Kahlo injured her right leg in both an accident and pneumonia, which she contracted at the age of three.

Frida Kahlo painting: Frida Kahlo - The Wounded Deer (1946) with color palette made by Dopely color extractor
Frida Kahlo – The Wounded Deer (1946)

9.  A Few Small Nips painting

Kahlo painted this painting after learning that her husband had cheated on her with her younger sister, Christina. In this picture, you can clearly see Frida Kahlo’s confused state of mind.

Frida Kahlo painting: Frida Kahlo - A Few Small Nips (1935) with color palette made by Dopely color extractor
Frida Kahlo – A Few Small Nips (1935)

10.  Without Hope painting

In 1945, Frida had to undergo several surgeries to regain her health. She was malnourished because of these surgeries. So she had to endure a diet with pureed foods and complete rest in bed. In fact, by drawing this painting, Frida depicts the bad and disappointing situation of that time.

She says about this painting:

“At least there is no hope left for me … everything is moving in the direction of what is in the womb.”

Frida Kahlo painting: Frida Kahlo - Without Hope (1945) with color palette made by Dopely color extractor
Frida Kahlo – Without Hope (1945)

11.  Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair painting

The painting was painted a month after Frida Kahlo divorced Rivera. In this work, Frida wears a man’s dress and with the scissors in her hand, she cuts her long hair, which is scattered around her. These are probably signs of her declaration of independence.

Somewhere she says about her separation from Rivera:

“Diego is no longer with me, I let him go. Now I’m myself. I’m painting. This time I’m drawing myself. Hand in hand, I’m married to myself. Really, am I enough for myself?”

Frida Kahlo painting: Frida Kahlo - Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair (1940) with color palette made by Dopely color extractor
Frida Kahlo – Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair (1940)

12.  My Grandparents, My Parents, and I painting

In fact, in 1936, Nazi Germany and Hitler revolted. Hitler forbade marriage between different races. Frida painted this painting to proudly declare that she herself was the result of an interracial marriage. She depicts her maternal native Mexican grandparents on the left and her paternal German grandparents on the right. Also, she herself stands among her parents and holds the red ribbon of the race.

Frida Kahlo painting: Frida Kahlo - My Grandparents, My Parents, and I (1936) with color palette made by Dopely color extractor
Frida Kahlo – My Grandparents, My Parents, and I (1936)

The last word

Only one accident could change Frida’s life, making her the greatest painter and celebrity of the 20th century. Frida’s paintings are full of strange emotions and colorings that are never repeated. It is as if the characters in the painting are alive and looking at us.

For me, Frida and the ups and downs of her life are very inspiring. Her power to face the hardships of her life is undeniable. Her intelligence for depicting her sufferings through colors in her paintings is incredible. In a word, Frida Kahlo can be considered a prodigy of the art world!

Posted by
Nazanin

It's Nazanin. For me who loves the rainbow after the rain. What could be more beautiful than writing about colors ?! Well, I'm here now, in Dopely, to share my writings about colors with you and take you with me to the world of colors!

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