Frida Kahlo (July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954) was a Mexican artist mostly known for her self-portraits. Around the age of 18, Frida was terribly injured in a bus accident, and it was during her recovery that she started painting, although this was not the first art form she practiced.
Her paintings blend her pain and struggles with the vibrant colors and motifs of Mexican popular culture. Life was not kind to Frida. At the age of six she contracted polio, a condition that made one of her legs shorter and thinner than the other. She was bullied by her peers, and the disease isolated her for long periods of time. After the bus accident, she suffered multiple fractures of her spine, foot, pelvis, collarbone, ribs, and her shoulder was dislocated. She nearly lost her life, and needed over 30 surgeries.
The atmosphere in her parents’ house was also very tense, lacking love, and as she later described it “very, very sad”. As if all this was not enough, she had a turbulent marriage, and also miscarried, causing her a serious hemorrhage that kept her in the hospital for weeks.
In her early twenties, she married Diego Rivera in spite of her mother’s disapproval. Diego was 20 years older than Frida, but her father thought the marriage would be a good deal. After all, Riviera was one of Mexico’s most successful artists, a notable figure in the Mexican Communist Party and he could easily financially support Frida as she didn’t have the ability to work and was in constant need of expensive medical treatment.
Diego’s womanizer reputation preceded him, but Frida still loved him even if he had cheated on her with several women. She eventually stopped being so fond of him after finding out that Riviera had an affair with her younger sister.
Soon after the couple divorced, Kahlo contracted gangrene and had her right leg amputated at the knee. She struggled with severe depression that led to heavy drinking. Still, displaying raw emotion through art helped her cope with her condition more than anything else.
Frida managed to turn excruciating pain into beauty and her passion stands out in every single one of her paintings — making her an appreciated and celebrated artist all over the world.
Here are 30 Frida Kahlo quotes to inspire you to carry on and transform pain into grace and beauty:
Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?
I paint flowers so they will not die.
I love you more than my own skin.
I was a child who went about in a world of colors… My friends, my companions, became women slowly; I became old in instants.
My painting carries with it the message of pain.
I am in agreement with everything my father taught me and nothing my mother taught me.
They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.
The most important part of the body is the brain. Of my face, I like the eyebrows and eyes.
At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.
Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away.
Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light. Tragedy is the most ridiculous thing.
I think that little by little I’ll be able to solve my problems and survive.
I tried to drown my sorrows, but the bastards learned how to swim, and now I am overwhelmed by this decent and good feeling.
You deserve the best, the very best, because you are one of the few people in this lousy world who are honest to themselves, and that is the only thing that really counts.
Take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are a bourbon biscuit.
Pain, pleasure and death are no more than a process for existence. The revolutionary struggle in this process is a doorway open to intelligence.
I am that clumsy human, always loving, loving, loving. And loving. And never leaving.
I hope the exit is joyful. And I hope never to return.
Only one mountain can know the core of another mountain.
Painting completed my life. I lost three children and a series of other things that would have fulfilled my horrible life. My painting took the place of all of this. I think work is the best.
I am my own muse. I am the subject I know best. The subject I want to better.
Can verbs be made up? I’ll tell you one. I heaven you, so my wings will open wide to love you boundlessly. I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint.
You deserve a lover who makes you feel safe, who can consume this world whole if he walks hand in hand with you; someone who believes that his embraces are a perfect match with your skin.
I must fight with all my strength so that the little positive things that my health allows me to do might be pointed toward helping the revolution. The only real reason for living.
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.
I want to be inside your darkest everything.
It is terrifying to see the rich having parties day and night while thousands and thousands of people are dying of hunger…
I leave you my portrait so that you will have my presence all the days and nights that I am away from you.
You deserve a lover who wants you disheveled, with everything and all the reasons that wake you up in a haste and the demons that won’t let you sleep.
What I wanted to express very clearly and intensely was that the reason these people had to invent or imagine heroes and gods is pure fear. Fear of life and fear of death.