More than six decades after her death, Mexican painter Frida Kahlo remains a spellbinding figure. The renowned artist, known for her raw and mysterious self-portraits, has inspired generations of women with her feminist views, folkloric fashion and passionate lifestyle. Now San Francisco is renaming a street in her honor. Phelan Avenue — located in front of City College of San Francisco — will soon be named Frida Kahlo Way, according to KQED Public Media.
Kahlo had close ties with the City by the Bay, which she visited in 1940 with her husband, painter Diego Rivera. The city, which is adorned with murals of her, also hosts an art festival Fiestas Frida and displays some of her works at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Here are 5 things to know about the beloved icon.
1. Her home in Mexico City is now a museum. Her colorful blue house, located in the chic and artsy Coyoacán neighborhood, retains many of her personal belongings, including her furniture, clothing, jewelry, photographs, many paintings and journals. She passed away there in 1954 of a pulmonary embolism, and many who visit the museum claim they feel Kahlo’s spirit.
2. Salma Hayek played the artist in her biopic. Hayek’s role in the film Frida scored the actress a Best Actress Oscar nomination in 2003. “What I respond to with Frida is her courage to be unique; her courage to be different,” Hayek told The Guardian. “She lived her life exactly as she wanted and never apologized.”
3. She was a fashion trendsetter. Kahlo celebrated her culture by wearing indigenous huipiles and regional Mexican dresses layered with dramatic jewelry and usually wore her hair up in braids, with floral ornaments. Her unique style and personality has inspired popular merchandise like dolls, Halloween customs, postcards, T-shirts and bags, to name a few. She even has her own children’s book by publisher Lil Libros.
4. Her love for her husband knew no bounds. Their marriage was filled with ups and downs. They got married in 1929, divorced in 1940, and then remarried that year. It’s been reported that Rivera had various affairs throughout their relationship, including a secret romance with Frida’s younger sister Cristina. Regardless, the couple shared a powerful and unbreakable bond. “Diego was everything; my child, my lover, my universe,” Frida said.
5. She had exotic pets. Frida loved animals and her paintings show that. She shared her home with various dogs, birds, monkeys and even a deer. She also loved to paint nature and be surrounded by it. “I paint flowers so they will not die,” she said. Like the exotic gardens she immortalized on the canvas, her vivacious spirit also seems to be eternal.