The life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is one of extreme hardship and unbelievable triumph. Her paintings and her life both reflect her strong nationalistic character which helped to shape Mexican culture in the nineteen thirties and forties. With her strength and unwearied dedication, she formed her own work, individual from the art movements of her time. Frida's personal and highly symbolic paintings, as well as her vigorous determination, have come to present her as an icon of feminism and perhaps on of the greatest symbolic figures of the twentieth century. The following essay will look at Frida's achievements as a nationalist and a feminist, and how they are depicted throughout her paintings and her life.
It was in Mexico City on the sixth of July nineteen hundred and seven that Frida was born. Stricken with polio at the early age of six, she entered elementary school later than her peers. During this time, the Mexican Revolution had begun, rousing up a spirited new sense of nationalism throughout the country. There was a movement away from the former dictator Porfirio Diaz, which had encouraged the citizens of Mexico to look proudly to their native roots. At this time, programs aimed their emphasis on the cultural reconstruction and educational development of Mexico. Under the administration of the education minister, José Vasconcelos, literacy campaigns were initiated and muralists were asked to paint depictions of Mexican history on the public walls. Diego Rivera, Frida's future husband, was one of the muralists asked to paint on the walls of the National Preparatory School, where he met Frida for the first time. Although actually older than many of her schoolmates, Frida claimed to be three years younger, born at the start of revolution, and referred to herself as a "daughter of the revolution."" Later on, at the age of eighteen, she was in a serious bus accident and suffered severe injuries to her spinal cord that left her in continuous pain for the majority of her life.