Frida Kahlo’s Broken Canvas: Pain, Perseverance, and the Quest for Freedom

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Updated: Sep 11, 2023
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The artwork includes both elements of design and principles of design. Horizontal lines are found on several areas such as the straps painted onto Frida Kahlo for support and the lines included in the background depicts the terrain as dry and harsh. The lines are also used to divide the sky from the terrain. The shape of Frida Kahlo’s skin, hair, and breasts are soft while other parts in the piece are depicted more concrete and hard-edged such as the terrain and spinal column.

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Warm colors, such as Frida Kahlo’s skin and the terrain she stands, on are broken up by cool colors such as, the white straps and sheets covering her and the blue sky above the terrain this allows both colors to complement each other. The texture from the white sheet around Frida Kahlo’s waist is painted with several bundles to show its smoothness and flexibility it has. Also, the detail inbeded in her hair and nails on her body give off a realistic texture, almost like a three-dimensional appearance.

The piece shows emphasis in an area which would be the opening of Frida Kahlo’s midline; this is used to make the viewer focus more on that spot and signifies there is an important reason to. Balance is also incorporated, for example the multiple tears on Frida Kahlo’s face are visually distributed equally, this creates a sense of satisfaction towards the artwork. Looking at the painting you can see that each individual part comes together as a whole design which refers to unity, this is used so that no other parts look out of the ordinary. Ultimately this piece sends out a depressing mood and portrays the image as misery and agony by the tears painted under Frida Kahlo’s eyes and the pain her body it portray in the image. This piece was made to show the artists view of her own life and what is currently happening in it. The message Frida Kahlo tries to convey is that she was not happy at that point of her life and feels trap and alone. The trolley crash has damaged her body, especially her spine, making her life less easy.

Another one of my favorite pieces by Frida Kahlo is called Tree of Hope, Keep Firm. It was made in 1946 and was created using oil paints on canvas (Frida Kahlo, 2019). In this painting Frida Kahlo splits it down the middle so it seems as if there are two paintings combined. The left side shows the sun surrounded by the blue and white sky and below that you see terrain with several cracks emerging. The right side is like the left but instead of a sun it has a small moon surrounded by the dark sky and the terrain underneath is now much darker. In the center of the whole painting is a hospital bed laid out horizontally. A woman is painted at the head of the bed turned at her side so that her back is facing us. Her shoulders are rapped with a white sheet and her hair dangles off the bed. Two bloody lacerations are carved on her lower back. And at the end of the bed Frida Kahlo is sitting on a wooden chair while wearing a large red dress. In her had she holds two objects: a flag with the title of the piece written on it and a corset. This piece is a representation of Frida Kahlo’s poor health condition getting worse. The woman with back lacerations is Frida when she had her terribly botched surgery and besides her is Frida Kahlo now acknowledging the pain she will have to carry throughout her life.

In this painting some elements and principles of design are displayed. Horizontal lines are seen in the background to separate the sky from the terrain this is used to indicate how close the portrait is from the background. Soft and harsh shapes are diverted to be clearly distinguishable. For the background warm colors are used on the left side and cool colors are used for the right side, this type of coloring indicates two parts of the painting are opposite or have different views from each other. There is also bright colors used such as red for the dress Frida paints herself with, since it is a bright color your eyes draw to it first which means red paint was used to emphasis herself. The value changes from light to dark in order to describe the scene in ways that colors can’t. The way the terrain is painted with hard edges gives it a realistic sharp texture. By the way the background is divided you can see the symmetrical balance this painting uses, such as the placement of the sun and moon, this creates a sense of satisfaction from the viewers. Frida Kahlo paints herself larger than most other aspects of the painting to symbolize she is the dominant one.

This artwork gives off a strong but ominous mood by the expression on Frida Kahlo’s face and how she holds her stance as she is placed in an eerie scene. Frida Kahlo painted this to express the way she felt at that moment. I believe what Frida Kahlo was trying to say through this piece is that your past may experience life changing moments, but it should never stop u from growing and should never reduce your confidence.


The stories about Frida Kahlo’s life, without a doubt, has impacted many individuals such as I. Reading and listening about Frida Kahlo’s past has allowed me to fully understand why she liked painted and how she was able to create such ideas. She has experienced so much pain that it’s too hard not to feel bad for her, but even through everything she has gone through, she has always had a brave face on. Her confidence and strong heart is what drove me to admire her so much. She only paints what she knows best and that’s her life. Even though I don’t love every single one of her paintings she is still my top favorite artist because of her painting style. Each painting has its own meaning, such as The Broken Column, to me it signifies freedom that has been lost within the artist herself. She is suffering and feels the agony all over her body and is not afraid to express it. With the Tree Of Hope Keep Firm, it signifies independence and bravery. Frida Kahlo knows her continuous pain will never end but she keeps herself.

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Frida Kahlo's Broken Canvas: Pain, Perseverance, and the Quest for Freedom. (2019, Mar 06). Retrieved from