Frida Kahlo – Works of Pain and Anguish

One of my favorite artists is Frida Kahlo. Since I am a huge fan of symbolism, her work sparked my interest while taking a humanities course in college. I immediately found myself wanting to know more about her because of the unusual ways she portrays herself in her paintings.

The Two Fridas

The Two Fridas

Kahlo’s paintings convey both physical and emotional pain that she endured throughout her tragic life. She often dressed herself in men’s clothing to rebel and annoy people, but she had issues with her body after having an injured leg from a bout of polio. She’d been in a bus accident when she was 18 years old, which left her with several broken bones, a fractured spine and confinement to a bed for many years. Probably worst of all for her was the inability to have children.


Kahlo often did destructive things, too. At one point in her life, she cut her beautiful long hair to spite her husband, Diego – probably because of his affairs with other women. In return, she also began having affairs and painted a beautiful portrait of herself to give to her married lover.

Self Portrait with the Portrait of Doctor Farill

Self Portrait with the Portrait of Doctor Farill

It seems that almost all of Kahlo’s paintings I found are self-portraits (and a few still lifes). In none of them does she portray herself as a happy person, which leads me to wonder more about this woman. Was she obsessed with festering in her own self-pity? Was she in more emotional pain than physical? Was she a bit of a narcissist? I think the mysteries lie in the symbols of her artwork.


About Shannon Hart

Photographer, Writer, Artist

Posted on January 19, 2014, in Art and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Frida Kahlo – I rented her life story DVD on Netflix a while back, a truely great artist.

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