The eccentric and free-spirited Mexican artist Frida Kahlo lived a passionate life, despite severe trials. Her lust for life can be seen in all her work, even in a painting she created when already at death’s door, in which she wrote the words viva la vida (live the life). We write about her life in Flow issue 13. Below you can read a preview of the article.
“I had two serious accidents in my life. One involved a trolley car and the other was Diego,” Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) once said, referring to her partner in a tumultuous marriage. This sardonic one-liner could pass as the shortest autobiography ever. It contains the entire tragedy of Kahlo’s life, including the fact that, for her, misfortunes always tended to come in pairs.
Intelligent and rebellious
The first accident Kahlo refers to happened in 1925, when she was eighteen. Strictly speaking it was her second misfortune, as she’d already suffered from polio as a small child, which left her with a stunted right leg. But that was nothing compared to the damage wrought when a trolley car crashed into a bus Kahlo was sitting in. She was on her way home from school with her sweetheart Alejandro Gomez, but ended up in hospital instead with broken bones in her pelvis, spine and ribcage, and injuries from an iron bar that had pierced her body. It is a small miracle that she survived at all. Her recovery took a full year and for most of that time, she was bedridden. She had to bid farewell to her dream of being a doctor, but the silver lining was that she turned to art during her recovery. Not only was this fortunate for everyone who came to love her work so much in later years, it was also good for her, as her own words testify: “I am not sick… I am broken… but I am glad I am alive as long as I can paint.”
In issue 13 you can read more about the life of Frida Kahlo. The cover of this Flow also features Frida Kahlo, we used the artwork from a fabric pattern of Alexander Henry.