Queer artist Frida Kahlo is one of the most iconic Mexicans ever. Her brilliant paintings hang in museums all over our pretty planet. She had a particularly complicated, volatile relationship with her husband, painter Diego Rivera; they frequently fought, divorced and remarried.
She had physical limitations due to polio that she had as a child and a streetcar accident when she was 18-years-old.
Kahlo was known for her colorful clothing celebrating Mexican traditional designs. Her fashion sense also extended to the corsets, crutches and prosthetic legs she needed due to her disability.
Her small house, where she was born and where she died, was her studio and it was packed with objects and books. She had a mirror over her bed to gaze at herself. The bed was one of her workspaces, and she had a special system that allowed her to paint while lying in bed. It was called The Blue House, and it is a beautiful shade of bright Mexican blue. Now it is one of the most-visited museums in Mexico City, even though it is tiny.
Kahlo was courted by Japanese artist Isamu Noguchi and rich American politician Nelson Rockefeller. She may have liked Rockefeller, but she also hung out with Leon Trotsky. Kahlo had affairs with both men and women, including her husband’s girlfriends. She had affairs film stars Dolores del Rio, Paulette Goddard and Maria Felix, and with American painter Georgia O’Keeffe.
Kahlo recognized the power of cross-dressing. In a family photograph from 1926 she is dressed in full male attire. She used cross-dressing to express her power and independence.
Salma Hayek portrays Kahlo in the film Frida (2002), receiving an Academy Award nomination.
In the USA, we are still waiting for Harriet Tubman to replace genocidal racist Andrew Jackson off the 2o dollar bill. But, in Mexico, Kahlo is already on the 500 peso note.
Kahlo was “rediscovered” in the 1970s Feminist Movement and hailed as an Icon of female independence and artistry. She continues to inspire artists, women, and LGBTQ people, especially bisexual female Art majors.