Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo (frē´dä kä´lō), 1907–54, Mexican painter, b. Coyoacán. As a result of an accident at age 15, Kahlo turned her attention from a medical career to painting. Drawing on her personal experiences, her works are often shocking in their stark portrayal of pain and the harsh lives of women. Fifty-five of her 143 paintings are self-portraits incorporating a personal symbolism complete with graphic anatomical references. She was also influenced by indigenous Mexican culture, aspects of which she portrayed in bright colors, with a mixture of realism and symbolism. Her paintings attracted the attention of the artist Diego Rivera, whom she later married. Although Kahlo's work is sometimes classified as surrealist and she did exhibit several times with European surrealists, she herself disputed the label. Her preoccupation with female themes and the figurative candor with which she expressed them made her something of a feminist cult figure in the last decades of the 20th cent. Some of her work is exhibited at the Frida Kahlo Museum, situated in her birthplace and subsequent home in suburban Mexico City.


See The Diary of Frida Kahlo (1995), ed. by S. M. Lowe, and The Letters of Frida Kahlo (1995), ed. by M. Zamora; H. Herrera, Frida (1983); S. M. Lowe, Frida Kahlo (1991); M. Zamora, Frida Kahlo (1991); H. Herrera, Frida Kahlo: The Paintings (1991).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Frida Kahlo: Selected full-text books and articles

Temporarily FREE! Frida Kahlo: A Biography
Claudia Schaefer.
Greenwood Press, 2009
Frida Kahlo: A Self-Proclaiming Self-Portrait Artist
Steadman, Kandace; Cook, Ande.
School Arts, Vol. 95, No. 5, January 1996
Heroes & Hero Cults in Latin America
Samuel Brunk; Ben Fallaw.
University of Texas Press, 2006
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "Frido Kahlo -- Heroism of Private Life"
45 Contemporary Mexican Artists: A Twentieth-Century Renaissance
Virginia Stewart.
Stanford University Press, 1951
Librarian’s tip: "Frida Kahlo" begins on p. 121
The Trouble with Frida Kahlo: Uncomfortable Truths about This Season's Hottest Female Artist
Mencimer, Stephanie.
The Washington Monthly, Vol. 34, No. 6, June 2002
Women Artists of Color: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook to 20th Century Artists in the Americas
Phoebe Farris.
Greenwood Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Latin American Women Artists"
The Fabulous Life of Diego Rivera
Bertram D. Wolfe.
Stein and Day, 1963
The House of Sunshine and Pain
Butler, Ron.
Americas (English Edition), Vol. 47, No. 2, March-April 1995
The Expanding Discourse: Feminism and Art History
Norma Broude; Mary D. Garrard.
Westview Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 22 "Culture, Politics, and Identity in the Paintings of Frida Kahlo"
Surrealism and the Exotic
Louise Tythacott.
Routledge, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Frida Kahlo begins on p. 180
Encyclopedia of Mexico: History, Society & Culture
Michael S. Werner.
Fitzroy Dearborn, vol.2, 1997
Librarian’s tip: "Women Artists" begins on p. 1586
A Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Art
Ian Chilvers.
Oxford University Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: "Kahlo, Frida (1907-54)" begins on p. 308
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