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Why is Frida Kahlo a legend?

According to historian Laura González, the feminist movement, the suffering reflected in her surreal paintings and Frida's unique style contributed to turn her into an icon.
EFE
11/06/2015
13:36
Notimex
-A +A

The success of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) began two decades after her death, in the 70s, when the United States and Europe began to retake her image due to several factors, including the feminist movement and the suffering reflected in her paintings, historian Laura González Matute said. 

In an interview with Notimex, the specialist of the National Center for Art Research, Documentation and Information (Cenidiap) said that while the "Fridamania" is and will be a complex subject, the artist remains a myth and an example for some women today. 

She added that an exhibition with her paintings and works of Tina Modotti that traveled throughout Europe also contributed to the boom. 

According to González, the fact that Frida married a man 20 years her senior (Diego Rivera), her folkloric dressing style ripe with Mexican symbols and her unplucked eyebrows also set her apart. 

Her suffering, her paintings that were considered as surreal in Europe, "were retaken by many women who felt identified with the series of problems the artist suffered throughout her life," she added. 

"She was admired by her character, her presence, her style that became fashionable. Women were dazzled by the bows on her head, rings and jewelry." 

"Also, it is said that she had sex with other men apart from Diego and even with women, which turned her into a controversial woman. This was essential to become an icon." 

González, who teaches art at Mexico's National Autonomous University (UNAM), said that Frida was not a submissive woman that stayed at home like most of the women of her time. On the contrary, she had a strong character that took up art since an early age thanks to the books that her father, a photographer, gave her when she was struck by polio. Even though originally Frida wanted to become a doctor, after suffering an accident that robbed her of her health painting became her refuge. 

After meeting Diego Rivera when she was still very young, Frida accompanied him in his trips, mainly to the United States, that she accepted as something exotic and different. 

The specialist said that contemporary artists such as Madonna have bought Frida's work, which boosted the prices paid by collectors in auctions. 

For González, Frida is both, a myth and a legend. 

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