Frida Kahlo on her death and birth days

Frida Kahlo on her death and birth days

Frida Kahlo has become one of Mexico's most celebrated artists. This Friday marks the 58th anniversary of her death and last Friday was the 105th anniversary of her birth.

When she was alive, her work and life was eclipsed by her famous muralist husband Diego Rivera.

Last year I saw an exhibit of Rivera's work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. There were newspaper clippings of Rivera in New York in the 1930s. In one he is photographed with Kahlo for a New York newspaper.

But her name is not even included in the photo caption. It simply says Diego Rivera and his wife.

At the time women, especially Mexican women, were rarely defined by more than that word esposa or wife.

Obviously she was so much more but the world didn't come to know her work until long after her death.

Here, as I spend the summer in Mexico, I see signs of Frida everywhere.

Her face decorates the outside of a plastic shopping bag. The colorful woven tops she wore can be bought in the local market. I have a necklace with her face painted inside a Corona bottle cap and a sequin patch with her portrait.

The best Frida exhibit I ever saw was at the Tate Modern in London in 2005. There in her work you saw her pain, her beauty, how she struggled to be a feminist, bisexual and political in macho Mexico.

Today to see much of her work you have to go to Mexico City. Her Casa Azul, or Blue House, has only a few of her paintings and drawings. The best place to find Frida's work in the Dolores Olmedo museum in the Xochimilco part of Mexico City.

There is a whole gallery dedicated to Frida and it is worth the visit. There you can see what inspired the artist who may now even be more famous than her husband.

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