Extended Essay Final Draft By: Esther Natal

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Frida Kahlo is now recognized as the greatest twentieth century female artist. Her art explores female themes that are still relevant and timeless, and her work remains iconic for the feminist movement. Frida Kahlo is often iconized by the feminist movement because of the appeal of her images to women, her efforts to claim her Mexican cultural heritage, and her role in expressing evolving gender roles The 6th of July, 1907, in the City of Mexico, Frida Kahlo was born in the “Casa Azul”, in Coyoacán, Mexico City. William Kahlo, her father, photographer, was a Jewish immigrant of Hungarian-German origin born in 1872 and who arrived in our country in 1890, at the age of 19. Initially in 1884 he married María Cardeña, with whom he conceived two daughters, María Luisa and Margarita. His wife died at while giving birth to their second child in 1897. The father of Frida Kahlo was establishing himself in Mexico, with the help of the German community. He was an employee of La Perla jewelry, currently located on Madero Street and frequently attended the High Society of porfiriato. William Kahlo was also a photographer. After the death of Maria Cardeña, Kahlo married, three months later, with Matilde Calderón, his co-worker at La Perla. The couple had four daughters: Matilde, Adriana, Frida-her full name: Magdalena Carmen Frida Calderón – and Christine. Their son, William, died a few days after his birth.

It is in Mexico that Guillermo Kahlo started as a photographer, as was his second father-in-law., Antonio Calderón. This likely influence, the circumstance of his dealings with the jewelry customers and the support of the German community in Mexico helped him consolidate his social position. Guests such as José Ives Limantour, Minister of Finance of President Porfirio Díaz, between 1904 and 1908 occupied the photographic record of buildings and historical monuments relevant to the history of Mexico, visual contribution to the commemorative publications of the centenary of the Independence. Kahlo printed about 900 glass plates, currently part of the National Institute of Anthropology and History. This project allowed the construction of the house of Coyoacán and offer education to their daughters. The bonanza would end with the end of Porfiriato. The family would often go through difficult times, which would lead the photographer to mortgage the “Casa Azul” and sell the furniture from their home. Frida Kahlo helped him by retouching the photographs and in practical matters related to the taking of images. Also during the seizures of epilepsy he suffered, helping him recover, she accompanied him during the photo sessions. Then it would be Frida Kahlo who would start receiving her father’s aid. In 1913, six years of age, Frida Kahlo was sick of poliomyelitis. This left her the skin of her right leg thinner, something shorter and less developed, and the foot tilted outward. The photographer encouraged her to exercise with bicycle use and swimming practice.

In 1922 Frida Kahlo entered the National Preparatory School, ENP, where they had ideas against the government, promoted by the Mexican Revolution and the educational commitment of José Vasconcelos. The school was opened to students of both gender. The teachings influenced her future political positions and feminists, as well as their interest in public affairs. There are several testimonies about Frida Kahlo’s character at that time. A girl, cheerful, rebellious during the classes, she possessed a sparkling language. The character of Frida Kahlo was thus opposed to that of her father, a quiet and taciturn man, an immigrant forced to make a future for himself, widower of his first wife, and epileptic.

In the ENP, Frida Kahlo joined a student group called “Los Cachuchas”, which consisted of mostly males. Alejandro Gómez Arias, Miguel N. Lira, Agustín Lira, Manuel González Ramírez, Angel Salas, Carmen Jaime, Jesús Ríos y Valles and Alfonso Villa. Frida Kahlo and Carmen Jaime were the only girls. They were joined by friendship, interest in letters, ideas, politics and the club overall that emblematized them. They were bilingual and good readers. Frida Kahlo was trilingual, having the ability to speak Spanish, English and German. Although she felt insecure about her father’s language and avoided speaking it. One of her most cherished readings were the imaginary lives of Marcel Schwob. She was familiar to this type of literature, due to her German Jewish father, who was with the Kabbalah which is often noted in some of notes and works.

In the ENP is where she met Alejandro Gómez Arias. He was a student who was studying law. He notable speaker and the future leader of the movement for university. Alejandro Gómez Arias, in the last years of his life, would indicate that given the mentality of their young relationship would be more accurate to say that they were “young lovers””.

[image: ]On September 17, 1925, Frida Kahlo and Alejandro Gómez Arias traveled on a bus that was rolled up by a tram, destroying it completely. A metal rod crossed into the young woman by the hip, fracturing the pelvic bone, and out through her vagina. The collision also causes three fractures in the spine, one in the collarbone, two ribs, and her right shoulder. The right leg, the one suffering from poliomyelitis, suffered from eleven fractures, plus dislocation of the foot. It was the beginning of a tortuous existence from the physical, psychological and emotional pain. The unimproved conditions, growing pains, prolonged periods of bed rest and the constant fragility were unminding her without hesitation. After her tragic accident, Frida Kahlo was never the same. She convalesced for two years though she would never fully recover. Although Kahlo was eventually able to walk again, she lived with chronic pain that often flared up and left her bedridden. Still, she showed a relentless passion for life, while channeling her pain into what eventually became an impressive artistic career. Frida Kahlo’s near death experience made her to begin to view life differently. She was once quoted as saying, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.” Out of the 140 paintings she produced, at least 55 of them were self-portraits.

Throughout her life Frida Kahlo was operated on multiple occasions, some of them disastrous, with long convalescence and severe sequelae. Frida Kahlo used about 25 different corsets to correct her posture. These corsets that she was forced to wear enclosed her and she often felt incomplete. Three pregnancies-in 1930, 1932 and 1934 — ended in abortions. In addition, during the last stage she was amputated a part of the right leg, below the knee, which was threatened by gangrene. In her paint The Broken Column, Frida Kahlo expressed her suffering by depicting exactly how she felt from her injuries in the accident. Her body is being supported by a corset but she is still trying to convey her message of spiritual triumph. Her self-portrait challenges the viewer to face her situation.

Guillermo Kahlo returns to her aid again. Frida Kahlo had observed that her father had a box of brushes and colors and asks him to share it. The father places it in his hands and entrust a carpenter to make an easel that fits her forced bed rest. Gradually, Frida Kahlo will find in the painting a way of survival and expression of these painful biographical episodes, in which crudeness intertwines with the atonement and where the tributaries of the oneiric and the symbolic converge. She would also include more ironic notes and bloody, pertaining to the popular culture of Mexico. This biography will be supplemented with the record of her family ancestry, portraits of public figures, and some urban and naturalistic moments. The central emphasis will be on her inquiry into identity, which will lead her to paint self-portraits, many of [image: ]them portentous and undoubtedly the most vivid and emblematic within the tradition of Mexico.

Along this unplanned self-referential sequence, her force of expressing different attitudes and the enigmatic beauty of her face will be the centripetal force that will aspire her to integrate the circumstances of her broken corporeity and injured soul, both in persistent convalescence. As young Frida Kahlo, who was striving to adapt to her new condition, Alejandro Gómez Arias was focused on the scope of his work. In his biography, within his correspondence and in various testimonies, the young lawyer downplays romance about Frida Kahlo refused to leave him right after accident. Frida Kahlo’s letters note, however, that the bond was deep, that she needed him, and that his absence hurt her. The first oil self-portrait that Frida Kahlo painted was dedicated to Alejandro Gómez Arias. Contact between the two, however, discontinued over time. Frida Kahlo artistic career all began with Frida Kahlo’s first self-portrait, a compositional style that became a leitmotif of her artistic career. Frida Kahlo continued to paint and she used her paintings as visual journals of her life.

Frida Kahlo once said to a friend, “I have suffered two serious accidents in my life, one in which a streetcar ran over me….The other accident is Diego.” Frida Kahlo had artistic circles. Through Cuban Communist Juan Antonio Mella and his partner, Italian photographer Tina Modotti, she met Diego Rivera. In an occasion Frida Kahlo often looks for him to show him her painting. Diego encourages the relationship is close and the muralist becomes a regular visitor to the “Casa Azul”. The bonds of their affection was born, and their relationship prospered and they were married in 1929. Diego Rivera was 43 and Frida Kahlo was 22.

Then the artists spent a three-year stay, at the end of 1930 to the end of 1933, in various cities in the United States, New York and Detroit among others, where Diego occupied in different murals. During this period Frida Kahlo suffered her first abortion and finding herself outside of Mexico, her mother Matilde Calderón, died in 1932. On their return to the capital they would inhabit since 1934 what was currently known as the “Casa Estudio.” Frida Kahlo and Diego were joined, in addition to affection and art, by their sympathy for ideals revolutionaries of the time. They were both affiliated with the Communist Party of Mexico. In the long run, Diego would express his differences and be expelled from the organization, aligned with the Soviet Union. Frida Kahlo would paint a portrait of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, leave written and visual testimony of his adherence to the Soviet revolution in her diary, and would decorate the head of his bed with his photo and the of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Mao. They divorced once and remarried a year later; they were separated several times.

Diego’s attitude was that of a political animal, “un zoon politico”, who wrote assiduously texts on art and politics. Frida Kahlo’s was more emotional, humanitarian and idealized, just as authentic. Apart from such vicissitudes, the couple was in Mexico, between 1937 and 1939. The relationship between the couple was passionate and creative. Conflicts were equally frequent, derived from the countless infidelities of Diego Rivera. The artist incurred the same weakness, propensity or hobby, out of spite, out of whim or out of pleasure, both with men and with women, friendships or close to both. Diego’s most serious infidelity is with Cristina Kahlo, Frida Kahlo’s younger sister and maybe the one closest to her. The artists divorced in 1939, and remarried in 1940.

In this painting, Frida Kahlo was able to demonstrate what Diego Rivera meant to her. Diego Rivera made Frida Kahlo feel complete. However he was a womanizer and was unfaithful to her several times. Despite his unfaithfulness, Frida Kahlo continued to be with Diego Rivera because with her husband she finds ease from her suffering. With her husband she often feels that she’s living in a fantasy. In several other paintings, she often paints Diego Rivera in several objects symbolizing that Diego Rivera was her everything. Diego Rivera’s constant affairs deeply hurt her. In the painting, one can see Frida Kahlo grieving and with her hair loose and around her neck. It seems that her own hair is strangling her showing that she feels as though she is being strangled. Within her Diary she writes to Diego Rivera: “Nothing compares to your hands, nothing like the green-gold of your eyes. My body is filled with you for days and days. You are the mirror of the night. The violent flash of lightning. The dampness of the earth. The hollow of your armpits is my shelter. My fingers touch your blood. All my joy is to feel life spring from your flower-fountain that mine keeps to fill all the paths of my nerves which are yours.”

This painting was completed shortly after her divorce with Diego Rivera. This portrait shows Frida Kahlo’s two different personalities. One is the traditional Frida in Tehuana costume, [image: ]with a broken heart, sitting next to an independent, modern dressed Frida. Frida Kahlo admitted it expressed her desperation and loneliness with the separation from Diego Rivera. But Kahlo’s depression was also fueled by her tumultuous marriage. “There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the trolley, and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.” – Frida Kahlo. This often-made Frida Kahlo feel “incomplete”. At the time, women in Mexico were supposed to bear children. This was something Frida Kahlo couldn’t do with her marriage with Diego Rivera which made her feel unloved and lonely. Examples of this can be seen in many of her paintings, a good example being “The Two Fridas” (1939) which shows a coherent understanding of the structure of an anatomically correct heart and Frida stitching a suture.

For a long period, cultural criticism emphasized the idea that Frida Kahlo had been an artist marginalized in her time and that recognition would come after her death. In more recent decades, because of the boom of the so-called fridomania, which began in European feminist circles of the 70s among other areas, it is stressed that his work in life had reached the high esteem of Pablo Picasso, Vasili Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Marcel Duchamp and André Breton, among other prominent figures of European modern art.

The last few years are tortuous, in the face of the constant relapses of their health and the proximity of the death. This painting was painted on the year of 1945 when Frida Kahlo’s health worsened was bed ridden for long periods of time. In the background, one can see the Mexico’s landscape, but the situation seems to be without hope. In 1950 she remained in hospital for almost the whole year because of an infection from a negligent graft in her spine. In 1953 she would arrive, against the indications doctors, to the opening of their only exhibition in Mexico in an ambulance, from where it would be down on her hospital bed. It’s also the year where a part of her right leg is amputated.

By 1954 Frida Kahlo will have no more wings to fly. Before her death, Frida Kahlo drew the “Angel of Death” drawing. Frida Kahlo viewed death as an escape from the lifelong pain she suffered with. The pains and discouragement put her in two suicide attempts, opioid overdose, on April 19th and May 6th. Some events made her continue to fight against her suffering and pain which was Communism. Frida sought for equality for everyone and was against society’s norms. The last glare of the flame of her life occurs during his participation, in a wheelchair, in the protest march of the two of July, next to Diego and Juan O’gorman, for the U.S. intervention in Guatemala. Frida often tried to fit in the patriotic society and meet the social expectation. Once she realized she was different, she became rebellious and clashed with the social expectations of a woman. On 13 July Frida Kahlo died at the age of 47. It is veiled in the Palace of Fine Arts. Lázaro Cárdenas, Heriberto Jara, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Lola Álvarez Bravo, Juan OGorman, Efraín Huerta, Lupe and Ruth Rivera, María Asúnsolo, among many others attended the ceremony. The coffin is covered with the flag of the Mexican Communist Party.

Art historians from different parts of the world have contributed to finding the true meaning of her paintings. The list of biographies and biographical sketches, essays and articles, from different perspectives is numerous. The same happens with the dozens of national and international exhibitions dedicated to your Frida Kahlo or in the context of collective. As a cultural reference, Frida Kahlo has become at the same time a feminist icon, a reference for young millennials in the search to build their own identities, in a costume and makeup style, in the commercial exploitation of their image.

In parallel, by the mere impulse of his life and work, Frida Kahlo has given rise to one of the most exciting phenomena of cultural syncretism. Frida Kahlo wrote, at the end of her diary, before her death, as a farewell: “”I look forward to the departure and I hope never to return.”” She went but stayed forever. Without a doubt, where we can see a better manifestation of their ideals is in their work. Frida Kahlo was a free woman, and this was reflected in her works, in which she spoke openly of sexuality, abortion, breastfeeding or motherhood. She gave voice to the repressed and caged women, who did not leave their homes or who did not speak freely because that did not correspond to their gender. Today Frida Kahlo is an icon known worldwide and has become a true icon for many women who fight for their freedom.

Works Cited

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  11. PBS, “Understanding Frida Today.” Last modified 2005. Accessed July 3, 2018, http://www.pbs.org/weta/fridakahlo/today/.
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  28. – – -. Frida Kahlo: The Paintings. London: Bloomsbury, 2002. Print.”
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Extended Essay Final Draft By: Esther Natal. (2021, Jun 17). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/extended-essay-final-draft-by-esther-natal/

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