Frida Kahlo

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The most curious thing about the supposed lies of Diego, is that in the long and short of it, those who are involved in the imaginary combination become angry, not because of the lie, but because of the truth contained in the lie, that always comes to the surface.
They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn't. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.

Frida Kahlo (6 July 190713 July 1954) was a Mexican painter. She was married to cubist painter Diego Rivera.

Quotes of Frida Kahlo[edit]

1925 - 1945[edit]

  • A little while ago, not much more than a few days ago, I was a child who went about in a world of colors, of hard and tangible forms. Everything was mysterious and something was hidden, guessing what it was was a game for me. If you knew how terrible it is to know suddenly, as if a bolt of lightning elucidated the earth. Now I live in a painful planet, transparent as ice; but it is as if I had learned everything at once in seconds.
    • Letter to Alejandro Gómez Arias, (29 September 1926)
  • I’ll be in Detroit two more weeks. I would like to tell you every thing that happened to me since the last time we saw each other, but most of them are sad and you mustn’t know sad things now. After all I shouldn’t complain because I have been happy in many ways though. Diego is good to me, and you can’t imagine how happy he has been working on the frescoes here. I have been painting a little too and that helped. I thought of you a lot and never forget your wonderful hands and the color of your eyes. I will see you soon. I am sure that in New York I will be much happier. If you still in the hospital when I come back I will bring you flowers.
  • I drank because I wanted to drown my sorrows, but now the damned things have learned to swim.
    • Letter to Ella Wolfe, "Wednesday 13," 1938, quoted in Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera (1983) ISBN 0-06-091127-1 , p. 197. In a footnote (p.467), Herrera writes that Kahlo had heard this joke from her friend, the poet José Frías.
  • Until always and forever. Now in 1944. After all the hours lived through. The vectors continue in their original direction. Nothing stops them. With no more knowledge than live emotion. With no other wish than to go on until they meet. Slowly. With great unease, but with the certainty that all is guided by the "golden section". There is cellular arrangement. There is movement. There is light. All centers are the same. Folly doesn’t exist. We are the same as we were and as we will be. Not counting on idiotic destiny.
    • Letter to w:Diego Rivera (1944), in "The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait"; ed. Carlos Fuentes & C. Fuentes; Abrams, Harry N. Inc. 2005
  • I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.
    • Quoted in Antonio Rodríguez, "Una pintora extraordinaria," Así (17 March 1945)

1946 - 1953[edit]

  • I am a poor little deer.
    • written line on a photograph she gave Diego. (1946)
    • In 1946 Frida painted 'The Little Deer', her self-portrait as a wounded stag; her health took an irreversible turn for the worse, then.
  • His supposed mythomania [of Diego Rivera] is in direct relation to his tremendous imagination. That is to say, he is as much of a liar as the poets or as the children who have not yet been turned into idiots by school or mothers. I have heard him tell all kinds of lies: from the most innocent, to the most complicated stories about people whom his imagination combined in a fantastic situation or actions, always with a great sense of humor and a marvelous critical sense; but I have never heard him say a single stupid or banal lie. Lying, or playing at lying, he unmasks many people, he learns the interior mechanism of others, who are much more ingenuously liars than he, and the most curious thing about the supposed lies of Diego, is that in the long and short of it, those who are involved in the imaginary combination become angry, not because of the lie, but because of the truth contained in the lie, that always comes to the surface.
    • On Diego Rivera, in "Portrait of Diego" [Retrato de Diego] (22 January 1949), first published in Hoy (Mexico City) and posthumously (17 July 1955) in Novedades (Mexico City): "México en la Cultura"
  • I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it's true I'm here, and I'm just as strange as you.
    • Quoted in "Diary of Frida Kahlo"
  • I have suffered two grave accidents in my life, one in which a streetcar knocked me down... The other accident is Diego.
    • Quoted in "Imagen de Frida Kahlo" by Gisèle Freund in Novedades (Mexico City) (10 June 1951)
  • They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn't. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.
    • Quoted in Time Magazine, "Mexican Autobiography" (27 April 1953)
  • I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint.
    • Quoted in Time Magazine, "Mexican Autobiography" (27 April 1953)
  • Pies, para qué los quiero
    Si tengo alas para volar.
    • Feet, what do I need them for
      If I have wings to fly.
    • Diary illustration, dated 1953, preceding a foot amputation in August of that year; reproduced on page 415 of Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera (1983)
  • I hope the exit is joyful and I hope never to return.
    • Last words in her diary (July 1954)

"Song of herself"; interviews by Olga Campos, Sept. 1950[edit]

"Song of herself"; interviews by Olga Campos - ed. & translation Salomon Grimberg; Merrell London, New York, 2008

  • I was fascinated by Papa’s studio [he was photographer]. I would help him wash, crop and press photos and afterwards sell them, when we were poor. When I was in Prepa, [following college] they would send me to help my father when he had epileptic attacks. After school I would go to his office, which was downtown, and accompany him everywhere. I would also do my homework there, and he would help me. I remember the fear that Papa’s epileptic attacks make me feel. Christina and I would hide under the bed. (9 September 1950)
    • In: Chapter 'My life', p. 63
  • I was really ugly [circa 8 a 10 years old] and had an admiration complex for Christi [her beautiful sister]. They sent us tot the ous of senora Maria a Campos for instruction.. .I asked about the mysteries of the Bible, and I think I behaved badly so they sent me to a retreat. It was the usual thing: "to dedicate oneself mor to God".. was a house where one spent about fifteen days.. .I asked the priest so many questions about how Christ was born, and was the virgin really a virgin, that they threw me out. (9 September 1950)
    • In: Chapter 'My life', p. 64
  • I remember the first time I was sick. I had gone to play with a boy, Luis Léon, and on the patio he threw a wooden log at my foot, and this was the pretext they used at home when my leg began to grow thin. I remember they said that it was a white tumor or paralysis. I missed a lot of school [Frida spent nine months in bed, and and at seven she wore (polio) booties]. I do not remember a lot, but I continued jumping, only not with the right leg anymore. I developed a horrible complex, and I hide my leg. I wore thick wool socks onto the knee, with bandages underneath. This happened when I was seven years old, and my papa and my mama begun to spoil me a lot and to love me more. The foot leaned to the side, and I limped a little. This was during the period when I had my imaginary friend. (9 September 1950)
    • In: Chapter 'My life', p. 65
  • ..when I had my imaginary friend I would look out of the small glass panes of the window and fill them with steam. Then, I would draw a little window and go out through it. Opposite our house, there was a milk store that was named Pinzon, and I would travel from the little window through the “o” in Pinzon, and from there into the center of the earth, where I had my friend, and we would dance and play.. .I do not remember my friend’s house, and she had no name. She was like me in age. She had no face. The truth is, I do not remember if she had a face or not, and she was very lively. I could not describe her. (9 September 1950)
    • In: Chapter 'My life', pp. 66-67
  • I first met Diego [who became later her husband] while he was painting the amphitheater [at the Escuela National Preparatoria, where Rivera was painting the mural 'La Créación', 1922 -1923] and I would really cherish going to see him paint. Orozco [famous Mexican painter] was also painting [murals] in the Prepa, and I remember one time a group of kids wanted to scratch the paintings of Diego and Orozco.. .Every day we went for ice cream at a stand opposite the law school.. .Sometimes Diego himself would pass by, and we would tease him. One day they asked me who I wanted to marry, and I said I would not marry, but I did want to have a child by Diego Rivera. – (27 October 1950)
    • In: Chapter 'My life', p. 71
  • I was already interested in painting when I was about twelve. I was about fifteen when I began to draw. I have the first drawing, a self-portrait that I did in 1925 [in fact she did this self-portrait in 1927 and gave it to a grade-school friend and wrote above her drawn head: 'Here I am sending you my portrait, so you will remember me'] I began to paint after the [bus] accident, I made the self-portrait with the clouds [1926] and the portraits of Adriana Kahlo, Lira, Alicia Galant, Christina Kahlo and Agustin Olmedo. All, more or less, are from the same period. With the last ones, I was wearing the cast corset [because of her injury by the bus accident in 1925 with her boy-friend Gomez Arias]. I would get out of the bed and paint at night. (1950)
    • In: Chapter 'My Painting', p. 73
  • Papa painted small landscapes by the river in Coyoacán, and copied sentimental paintings in watercolour and oil. Afterwards, he gave me a little box of paints that belonged to him. Ángel Salas gave me a small book that told me how to prepare the canvases, and I made them smooth, smooth. The courtship with Gómez Arias lasted from 1922 until 1925, when the bus crushed us both. Gómez Arias brought me books on painting and painters from Europe. These were the first books on art that fell into my hands. (1950)
    • In: Chapter 'My Painting', p. 73
  • José Clemente Orozco [became later a famous Mexican painter as well] and I would travel on the same trolley from Coyoacán to Mexico City, and I would carry his papers. We became pals, and I invited him to the house. I had painted four or five things when he visited, and he gave me a hug and said I had a lot of talent, and he chatted on about the horrors of Diego [Rivera]. There was beginning to be talk about Diego; that he had returned from Russia and was giving talks on on Russian theater and art. I would go to hear him. Afterwards, he began to paint at the Prepa. [Escuela Prepatoria] and later at the Secretaríade Educación. I was studying at the Prepa, but the [bus] accident [in 1925] messed me up. (1950)
    • In: Chapter 'My Painting', pp. 73-74
  • I returned to school [after the bus accident], but I felt very sore and had little strength. I took my paintings to Diego [Rivera], and he liked them a lot, most of all the self-portrait. But of the rest he told me that I was influenced by Doctor Atl [a Mexican painter and revolutionary] and by Montenegro, and that I should try to paint whatever I wanted without being influenced by anyone else. That impressed me a lot, and I began to paint that I believed in. Then the friendship and almost courtship with Diego began. I would go to see him paint in the afternoon, and afterwards he would take me home by bus or in a Fordcito – a little Ford that he had – and he would kiss me. (1950)
    • In: Chapter 'My Painting', p. 74
  • One Sunday, Diego came to the house to see my paintings and critiqued all of them in a very clear manner, and he told me all the possibilities he saw in them. Then I painted two or three things, which are around the house, that to me seem very influenced by him [circa 1928]. They are portraits of thirteen- or fourteen-year-old kids.. .In 1929, I joined the Communist Party, I got married to Diego, and I had my first abortion. In that year I painted a portrait of Cristina Moya.. ..and other drawings that Morillo Safa [her main patron] owns. The unfinished [self-] portrait of my first abortion was my first Surrealist painting ['Frida and the Caesarean', she painted in 1929] but not completely. I have it [at home]. (1950)
    • In: Chapter 'My Painting', p. 74
  • We [Frida and Diego] moved from the house on Reforma [street] to Coyoacán, and that had an enormous influence on me. How we painted the house and the Mexican furniture, all that influenced my painting a lot. While still on Reforma, I painted a self-portrait [Self-portrait 'Time Flies', 1929] that is owned by Morillo Safa. Once in Coyoacán I began to make paintings with backgrounds and Mexican things in them. I painted the portraits of Hale’s sister.. ..and the one of Diego, which I did not finish [this painting is lost and was never documented before]. Those three paintings, who knows where they are. Mirillo Safa has the third self-portrait [her Self-portrait of 1930], showing me bald and sitting in a cane chair. (1950)
    • In: Chapter 'My Painting', p. 75

Quotes about Frida Kahlo[edit]

  • The art of Frida Kahlo is a ribbon around a bomb.
  • If I were a painter, I'd be Frida Kahlo.

External links[edit]

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