Cortesía: Nickolas Muray
This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)
A life full of suffering and bliss reflected in some of Frida Kahlo’s quotes
The story of this Mexican painter, both personal and artistic, was always full of emotional swings; these famous quotes sum up her suffering to the purest love.
However, to understand the context, we cannot overlook a few moments in the painter’s life that filled her with bliss and pain. The later are also reflected in her art.
First, we must go back to 1913, when polio gravely affected Frida’s health. Her condition led her to the operating room where she was subjected to multiple operations. Additionally, she suffered a serious accident that greatly injured her body.
This led her to lay in bed for 9 months. Thus, she was absorbed in her thoughts, lacerated inside and out, with no company other than herself in her house in Coyoacán. As if that weren’t enough, the deformity of her right leg was another problem she had to face.
The breaking point occurred in September 1925, when the school truck she was traveling in collided with a tram. Her body was severely damaged.
Her spine and collarbone were fractured; three bones in her pelvis fractured and two broken ribs. Her right foot dislocated, her left shoulder came off and her right leg was broken in eleven parts, amongst other tragedies.
From then on, her life would undergo a radical change. It’s when she discovered her true calling. It is then that she returned to her origins and dug inside herself. What she got from that was the inspiration to paint and articulate with words her most famous quotes.
“At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.”
The first of Frida Kahlo’s quotes is connected to the events mentioned above; this sentence sums up perfectly part of this stage in the painter’s life.
Although the emotional and physical pain was extreme, Frida’s strength managed to bring out the painter’s resilience to disgrace and tragedy.
“What do I need feet for when I have wings to fly.”
This is probably one of Kahlo’s most celebrated phrases. It evidently refers to the period when the artist came into contact with the visual arts as a way to channel her emotions. And what better way to do it than through painting. Thus, the metaphor refers to the temporary physical disability she suffered, which ended resulting in the development of her pictorial abilities.
“I don’t really know if my paintings are surreal or not, but I do know that they represent the frankest expression of myself.”
It is well known that for critics, Frida’s art was closely related to the surrealist movement. Interestingly, she herself was always against the typecasting of her art, especially when called “surreal.” The fact is that it embodied the feeling of the painter at different stages of her life.
“Painting has made my life full. Painting has replaced everything. I don’t think there’s anything better than work.”
Additionally, on top of her illness and the accident, Frida had to face the loss of three pregnancies. The first one occurred in 1930, the second the following year, and the third in 1934. The pregnancies put Frida and the fetuses’ lives at risk.
Hence, she wasn’t able to bear children from the love of her life, Diego Rivera. Thus, in painting, she found her favorite activity to release all her emotional emptiness; all her failed deficiencies and longings. So, creativity was the greatest gift life could give her in exchange for motherhood.
“I feel I’ve loved you forever, since you were born, and before that, when you were conceived. And sometimes, I feel like you bore me.”
Speaking of Diego Rivera, this quote is an ode to the love that the painter professed to the great Mexican muralist. She was always by his side, no matter what. Even when they had to leave the country for Diego’s commissions, Frida always followed him wherever he went. Despite his repeated infidelities. Without a doubt, deep down they were made for each other.
Her relationship with Diego Rivera is a recurring theme on our Frida Kahlo list of quotes
“Fall in love with yourself, with life and then with whoever you want.”
Wise words from Kahlo that invite you to deconstruct romantic love and put self-love and courage above everything. Even above sentimental love for someone else. Additionally, it is an invitation to live life.
Frida Kahlo’s quotes portray a personal view of the social, political and cultural life of the time
“I am free to hurt myself.”
In a way, this sentence sums up her whole life. Although it may seem ridiculous, Frida always ruled her life; she took her own decisions and made mistakes, from which she always learned life’s lessons. But the most important thing is that she died with all the wisdom she could learn through experience.
“I’m my own muse, I’m the person I know best. The topic I want to learn best.”
Proof of this is her visual work, where she is the main character. Some examples are My birth (1932), The Two Fridas (1939), The Broken Column (1944), The Frame (1938), Self-Portrait with Monkey (1938), The Wounded Dear (1946), among many more. Her paintings were both a constant questioning and a self-discovery.
“I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality.”
Lastly, from our list of Frida Kahlo quotes, we find part of the connection between the person and her intimate relationship with art.
Whether she was a surrealist or not, Frida Kahlo was a human being. A person with weaknesses, but also with many convictions and strengths. An artist who will remain forever in the history of art by reflecting the reality she lived in.
“I drink to forget, but… I don’t remember what.”
This applies to everyday life. A good excuse to take a bottle of mezcal, and pour yourself a good drink. As a Mexican, she liked tequila and mezcal. We are sure her and Chavela Vargas shared one too many drunk nights together.
“I wanted to drown my sorrows in liquor, but they learned to swim.”
The Ecuadorian graphologist Marcelo Vásconez studied a handwritten letter and drawings by the artist. He points out that there are several traits of the artist that “reveal her alcoholism.” He also discovered the bipartition of personalities: Frida and Diego: her a masochist; him a sadist, who were made for each other.
“Where you can’t love, don’t delay.”
This quote is paradoxical. It gives the receiver a clear warning that wasting time waiting to be reciprocated by a person is a struggle in vain. And as for love, Frida had many, because, in addition to her great love Diego, it was rumored that she had a relationship with Chavela Vargas and Leon Trotsky.
“I paint self-portraits because I’m alone most of the time. I paint myself because I’m the one I know best.”
The author of many self-portraits always dealt with loneliness in different forms. In real life, especially in her youthful days, as well as on the pictorial plane. Her paintings are proof that this loneliness can be, to a certain point, healing.
“Pain is not part of life; it can become life itself.”
A quote that is closely linked to the previous one. For it was her physical and emotional ailments that became her life’s constant leitmotif.
“My blood is a miracle that, from my veins, crosses the air from my heart to yours.”
Fights and reconciliations, Frida lived a turbulent love with Diego. Infidelities on both sides, but a wild love for each other nonetheless. She was his muse and life partner. That love was born when she met him after the accident that left her bedridden. Diego was impressed by her talent and she by his.
“Everything can have beauty, even the worst horror.”
Hence, it all depends on the angle from which we choose to see the world Perhaps for Frida, her bodily defects, both genetic and those caused by the accident, could have been the painter’s torment at a given point. The truth is that if it hadn’t been for that incident, she wouldn’t have painted such meticulous canvases. These boast great beauty even though some of them have misfortune as the main theme.
“I’d like to give you everything you ever wanted to have, and you still wouldn’t know the wonder of being able to love you.
Frida was always a rebel and very passionate. Always defending her beliefs. She was passionate about her life companion and her art. To what extent can misfortune motivate us to feel life in all its splendor? That question could only be answered by Frida. What is a fact is that she made life hers.
“Never in all my life will I forget your presence. You took me in, destroyed me, and returned me completely whole.”
This quote has an implicit dedication. These words are clearly directed to Diego who, as mentioned above, came into Frida’s life at a difficult moment in her life, where she was literally devastated.
“I feel that we’ve been together since our birthplace; that we are of the same matter, the same waves; that we carry within the same sense.”
The connection between these two characters went beyond artistic admiration and empathy. A love that surpassed Diego’s affair with Cristina, Frida’s younger sister. Despite this, her emotional loyalty was unwavering.
“Can verbs be invented? I want to tell you one: I heaven you, thus my wings stretch immensely to love you without measure.”
We can’t say much about this sentence. What we do know is that these are the words we hope were dedicated to us. However, this is a clear dedication to Diego.
“I look forward to the departure and hope never to return.”
Fearless of death, Frida took the precept of living intensely to the extreme. “I never cried, on the contrary. I said, she’s gone where she was meant to be. To the wonderful dimension of artists,” Chavela Vargas would recall after Frida’s death.
“The most powerful art in life is to transform pain into a healing talisman. A butterfly is reborn, blossomed into a colorful party!“
The artist personified this quote through her spinal injury, her broken collarbone, three lesions on the pelvic bone and fractured ribs; his right foot dislocated, as well. Nothing stopped her unwavering spirit.
“Some are born with stars, others starry, and although you might not believe it, I’m one of the starriest”
Although Frida was at the center of the cultural realm of her time and enjoyed the praise and admiration of critics, the artist’s journey was not easy. Especially with the series of events that put her physical and emotional stability at the brink of collapse.
“And you know very well that a woman’s sex appeal wears off very quickly, and they’re left with what they have in their big head to be able to defend themselves from this filthy fucking life”
In addition, she used to put women’s reality on the table with accurate comments, prioritizing intelligence over vanity.
“I love you more than my own skin”
A sentence that may well be dedicated to her passion for art, the lovers that went she had, life itself. Or all of the above.
“What doesn’t kill me, feeds me”
Similar to “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” Frida lived it in the flesh after such terrible events in her life. These would be the engine of a prolific career in the art world.
“Tree of Hope, stand strong”
By way of prayer, this sentence evokes a the painter’s deep desire to have temperance in the face of adversity. And to face her unbridled relationship to art and Diego
“Sometimes I’d rather talk to workers and bricklayers than with those stupid people who call themselves educated people.”
Many intellectuals and people involved in Mexican culture were a part of Frida’s life, such as André Breton and Leon Trotsky. When she visited Europe, she said: “They talk (the intellectuals) incessantly about ‘culture’, ‘art’, ‘revolution’, etc. They believe themselves to be the gods of the world; they dream of the most fantastic nonsense and poison the air with theories and more theories that never come true. The next morning, they have nothing to eat in their homes, because none of them work.” What say you?
“The only good thing I have is that I’m starting to get used to suffering…”
Words of a young Frida, beginning her career in art. Unknowingly, her work, her persona, and her character would be very connected to Mexican folklore. A woman who carried suffering and genius within herself.
“What’s my path? To wait for you? To forget you? Do what you do, go from one’s arms to the next; sleep with today and with someone else tomorrow?”
Frida was a woman of great character and a strong presence. she was charming and ironic. From a young age, she was temperamental. Perhaps inherited from her father, a German who let the world know that, out of his four daughters, Frida was her favorite.
“I tried drowning my pains, but they learned to swim“
We finish this list of Frida Kahlo’s quotes with the worst event of her life, which was when they had to amputate part of her right leg. This fact plunged her into a deep depression, as she wrote poems related to pain and suffering, as therapy.
What are your favorite Frida Kahlo quotes?
This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)