Magdalena Carmen Frieda Khalo Calderon
“Magdalena Carmen Frieda Khalo Calderon was born on July 6, 1907. She was born in the house her parents built known as La Casa Azul or blue house in Coyoacan, Mexico City. Her father is Wilhelm Kahlo, he is of Hungarian-German origin. He was born in Pforzheim, Germany and migrated to Mexico when he was nineteen years old. When he arrived to Mexico he changed his name to Guillermo which is the Spanish name for William. Her mother is Matilde Calderon y Gonzalez, who was born in Mexico City. Frida is the second youngest out of her four sisters. She also has two half sisters from her fathers side but she didn’t grow up with them nor had a relationship with them due to the fact that her father had them sent to a convent after the death of his first wife. Her grandfather from her mother’s side was Antonio Calderon, he was a photographer. This is where her father came to learn the art of photographer from which she was able to learn from her father Guillermo. Her father earned a commission of compiling photographic inventory of architectural monuments of the pre-Columbian and colonial eras during the dictatorship of General Porfirio Diaz.
During the occurrence of the Mexican revolution his well paid commission came to an end and Firda was prompted to work in shops to help her family. During her time in school at the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria which was a preparatory college for university she was a paid apprentice to Fernando Fernandez who was a commercial print maker and also friend of her father’s. His shop was close to her school so she would often go there after school , Fernandez helped her financially but also taught her how to draw. While in school she was also a part of a group called Cachuchas which was named after the peaked caps that members of the club would wear. It was a group that supported socialist-nationalist ideas of Jose Vasconcelos the Minister of Public Education which lead to her group arguing a reform for their school. Khalo in her younger days was never much interested in pursing a career as an artist. She was actually very much intrigued by natural sciences such as zoology, anatomy and biology. She hoped to eventually become a doctor. She would come to experience a life turning event that would become an essentially part of her life in leading her to become an artist.
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On her way home from school on September 17, 1925 along with Alejandro Gomez Arias, her boyfriend at the time who was also a member of the Cachuchas boarded the bus to Coyoacan. The bus ended up colliding with a tram that resulted in several casualties and multiple injured by standers Frida Kahlo being one. The accident had caused her to be impaled by a steel handrail fracturing her hip, spine and pelvis. She was sent to the Red Cross Hospital in Mexico City. She stayed in the hospital for about a month and was then sent home where she was bedridden for three months. This caused her to be in constant pain physically and physiologically, about a year after the accident she was readmitted into the hospital. The doctors preformed an x-ray and realized several of her vertebrae were displaced and as result she was confined to wear a plaster corset for nine months. Since the plaster corset severely restricted her movement during this time she began to paint to take her mind off the pain and to past time.
Her father had lent her his box of paints and brushes that he had since he would paint and draw landscapes during his free time and her mother had asked a carpenter to make a sort of an easel that could be placed on her bed since she couldn’t’ sit up due to her cast. Her bed had also been given a canopy with a mirror which the beginning of her self portraits. Her earlier work of portraits of herself, her family and her friends consisted of a European influenced Mexican painting style. Her paintings of her Self Portrait in a Velvet dress, portrait of her friend Alicia Galant and If Adelita… or The Peaked Caps are all examples of her work that consisted of European influenced style. The Self Portrait and Portrait of Alicia Galant containing an Italian Renaissance feel to it with it’s elongated bodies and dark but vibrant hues of reds and blues. In her art work of If Adelita… or the peaked Caps you can clearly see a cubism style. Her style began to head more towards Mexicanism.
Mexicanism is the sense of national identity of ones country; Mexico. This idea was developed after the revolution, during the election of Alvaro Obregon as president in 1920 and further influenced by Jose Vasconcelos who helped combat illiteracy and launched a cultural reform in achieving equal status and cultural integration for the Indian population in order for them to re-establish their own Mexican culture. This became a huge impact not just for the country of Mexico as whole but for artists and academia that was European dominated due to the suppression of Indian culture during the Spanish conquest. Due to the political awareness she was impacted and joined a group intellectuals and artist that all shared a common goal. By this time she had full recovered and was living a regular life. She”