On this day in 1907, Frida Kahlo was born in Mexico City. Known for her striking self-portraits, Kahlo was the original master of the ‘selfie’.
Her portraits give you a glimpse into Kahlo’s reality and into her subconscious – often she is staring blankly out from the canvas surrounded by surreal, exotic or curious props and supporting characters. From monkeys to hummingbirds, weaponry and a car manufacturing plant even another version of herself, within the same portrait. Expressing her personality, her sense of self by adopting and including these extras – in much the same way we contextualize our selfies today.
Kahlo’s art was once referred to by Andre Breton as a ‘ribbon around a bomb’, expressing his impression of her as a ‘surrealist’ artist – a term she wholly rejected. Here are five more facts you need to know about Frida Kahlo:
1. She lied about her birthdate
Although her birth certificate says she was born on July 6, 1907, Frida Kahlo told people her date of birth was July 7, 1910. It is thought that she did this so her birth would coincide with the Mexican Revolution and the start of a free Mexico.
2. She wanted to be a doctor
Frida Kahlo was set to study medicine, when at just 18 years old, she was involved in a bus crash which almost killed her. Following the accident, she was bed-ridden and immobilized for months and so began to paint self-portraits.
3. Her paintings are highly personal and very symbolic
Kahlo referenced her personal tragedies to produce art works that were emotionally raw and visually disturbing. She created over fifty self-portraits that often show her in suffering. Her work is somtimes considered reminiscent of Salvador Dalí with the difference being Kahlo’s subject matter was more personal than humorous or intellectual.
4. She had only one major solo exhibition in the United States during her lifetime
One of New York’s few galleries at the time, Julien Levy Gallery, hosted a 15-day solo exhibition in November 1938.
5. She is the first Hispanic woman to be featured on a US postal stamp
Both the United States Postal Service and the Servicio Postal Mexicano honored Kahlo with a postal stamp in 2001.
Further reading: Frida Kahlo Foundation