Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Evie. Evie Wonders, “Who was Frida Kahlo?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Evie!

Do you have a favorite artist? Do you enjoy the paintings of Vincent van Gogh? How about Jacob Lawrence or Georgia O’Keeffe? Today’s Wonder of the Day is about one great painter we haven’t named yet. Who is it? Frida Kahlo, of course!

Frida Kahlo was born on July 6, 1907. However, she told people that her birth year was 1910. Why was Kahlo pretending to be three years younger? It didn’t really have anything to do with her age. Instead, she chose 1910 because it linked her to a major event that started that year—the Mexican Revolution.

Kahlo’s full name at birth was Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón. When she was six, Kahlo caught polio. She lived, but walked with a slight limp for the rest of her life. 

Kahlo didn’t plan to have a career in art. Instead, she wanted to study medicine. As a teenager, she went to the National Preparatory School in Mexico City. There, she took many science classes to prepare for the career she wanted.

But life doesn’t always go as planned. In 1925, Kahlo was badly hurt in a bus accident. It was during her recovery from this accident that Kahlo began painting. She finished her first known artwork, Self-Portrait in a Velvet Dress, and never looked back.

Frida Kahlo quickly became known as one of Mexico’s greatest painters. Her husband, Diego Rivera, was another great artist. The two traveled to many places to make art. They lived in San Francisco, New York City, Detroit, and Paris. Finally, they moved back to Mexico City.

Kahlo was also close to other artists of the time. She was good friends with Pablo Picasso, who admired her art. Kahlo was also involved in politics. She was a member of the Mexican Communist Party.

In 1943, Kahlo became a professor of painting at La Esmeralda, a school for fine arts. Throughout the 1940s, however, her health declined. She still created many works of art, many of them self-portraits, but was bedridden by the early 1950s.

Did ill health stop Frida Kahlo? Of course not! For her first solo exhibition in 1953, she had a four-poster bed set up in the gallery. This meant she could go to her show. She lay in bed near her artwork all night. 

However, things were nearly over for Kahlo. She passed away in 1954 after a pulmonary embolism. She left behind a number of masterpieces. Some of her best-known works are The Two Fridas and Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird. 

In her art as well as her life, Kahlo strove for honesty. Her self-portraits depicted Kahlo truthfully as she saw herself—unibrow and mustache included. Today, she is remembered as one of history’s greatest artists.


Standards: NCAS.A.11, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, NCAS.A.7, NCAS.A.8, NCAS.A.1, NCAS.A.2, NCAS.A.3, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.7

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