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All about Frida: 10 Interesting Facts

Frida Kahlo is, without a doubt, the most popular Mexican artist in the world. We're rounded up several interesting facts about her and her life. 

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#1: Frida is a nickname.
Her given name is Magdalena Frida Carmen Kahlo y Calderón and she was born in Coyoacán, Mexico. 

#2: Her birthday is controversial. Kahlo's birth certificate states she was born July 6, 1907, however, she held firmly that her birthdate was July 7, 1910. Kahlo's choice to contest her birthdate was politically-charged, as she wanted it to coincide with the beginning of the Mexican Revolution. She was always deeply patriotic and a voice for the oppressed, so this act was an extension of that feeling.

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#3: She wanted to be a doctor. Kahlo was a great student and had dreams of being a doctor. She had polio at age 6, which disrupted her childhood. This ultimately turned her on to art, as a way of expressing the suffering and pain.

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#4: Kahlo is famously known for being stricken by tragedy. She was involved in a serious bus crash at age 18, where an iron bar pierced her abdomen. She was in the hospital for months and had nearly 30 operations. 

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#5: Her suffering caused her to become the Queen of self-portraits. Due to her disability caused by Polio, Kahlo's parents bought her a custom easel that she could use while lying down, protecting her fragile spine. Art helped her cope with her suffering and she was her most commonly used subject. Painting became the outlet to her pain. Self-portraits make up nearly 55 of the 150 works she painted. 

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#6: She arrived by ambulance to her first major solo exhibit in Mexico. Due to her declining health in her final years, she rarely left her home of Casa Azul, and used a wheelchair and crutches to get around. In April 1953, her first solo exhibit opened in Mexico at Galería de Arte Contemporáneo. She was under bed rest and doctors advised her not to go, however, she had other plans. She ordered her 4-poster bed be moved to the gallery and arrived by ambulance, where she was brought in with a stretcher directly to her bed, so she could enjoy the evening with everyone else.

#7: Politics were important to her. Kahlo joined the Mexican Communist party and offered political asylum to the Communist revolutionary Leon Trotsky and his wife. She wanted to improve the lives of Mexican women and became their voice, as they were oppressed citizens in the Mexican patriarchal society.

#8: Frida was unable to have children. After the physical injuries she endured earlier in her life, doctors told her it might be unsafe to have children, and possibly endanger her life. As a result, many of her pregnancies were medically terminated. One pregnancy ended in miscarriage, which inspired her well-known Henry Fold Hospital work of art. 

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#9: Frida had many loves.
 She was married to famous muralist Diego Rivera, but for Kahlo, fidelity did not equal love. Both artists had several known affairs with others. She was bisexual and comfortable with it. 

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#10: Her style is iconic throughout the world.
 Throughout her life and after, Kahlo has always been a strong woman that others look up to. She's a source of inspiration to so many around the world. Her face itself has a signature look where she designed her own hairstyles, always had on red lips, and her impressive unibrow, always accentuated. 

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#11: Kahlo rarely cracked a smile. 
It is said that she hated her teeth and smile, so never showed them. It's for this reason, she displays a similar emotion in all photos of her. 

#12: Frida was a great lover of animals. Since she was unable to have children, she became fond of animals -- who also became her muses. She loved spider monkeys, cats, birds, and other domestic and wild animals, including, indigenous hairless dogs called Xoloitzcuintli. She kept animals as pets and also regularly featured them in her work, saying they symbolized the children she couldn't have.

frida kahlo animal lover

#13: Kahlo was born and died in Casa Azul.
The famous blue house she spent her life in is located in the center of Coyocán, and is now the must-visit Frida Kahlo Museum. Her ashes sit on her bed in an urn shaped like the artist's face. 


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