Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Rare and loving photos of Frida Kahlo capture the artist and feminist icon in the last years of her life

frida-kahlo-artist.jpg

Beautiful, talented and strong, Frida Kahlo has long captivated the public's imagination.

An enigmatic and fascinating figure, she led an extraordinary life as a feminist icon and one of the foremost artists of the Twentieth Century.

And while she's best known for her self-portraits, a new book turns the camera around to capture the Mexican painter in a series of rare and candid images, many of which have never been seen before.

In 1950, legendary photographer Gisèle Freund embarked on a two-week trip to Mexico - but she wouldn’t leave until two years later.

Instead, she met Kahlo and her fellow artist lover Diego Rivera, and was welcomed into their home, La Casa Azul (The Blue House).

She immersed herself in their private lives, taking hundreds of photos that somehow manage to capture the passion, independence and beauty of Kahlo, and the Bohemian sensitivity that both her and Rivero, as communists, subscribed to. 

Frida

Above: Frida at work (©Gisèle Freund / IMEC / Fonds MCC)

Kahlo turned to painting after she was severely injured in a bus accident. Her fearless representations of the female form and her own suffering, coupled with her personal strength and independence in the early 20th century, are widely celebrated by the feminist art movement.

Brilliant and volatile, She and Rivera had a notoriously stormy relationship - they divorced and re-married in the same year - with a fiery creative dynamic at its heart. 

"I suffered two grave accidents in my life. One in which a streetcar knocked me down... The other accident is Diego," Kahlo once declared, upon discovering her husband had had an affair with her sister in 1935. 

Theirs was a creatively stimulating but fiery union punctuated by infidelity on both parts. Kahlo was friends with the painters Marcel Duchamp and Pablo Picasso, and had an affair with the exiled Russian leader Leon Trotsky (he and his wife lived with the couple for a while in Mexico, where Trotsky was later assassinated). 

Frida Kahlo

Above: The artist with puppies in her courtyard (©Gisèle Freund / IMEC / Fonds MCC)

Freund's powerful and vivid photographs are among the last taken of Kahlo before her death in 1954, aged 47. The artist was very ill in the last years of her life; she developed severe gangrene in her right foot and also suffered depression.

But she continued to support political causes and launched her first solo exhibition in Mexico a year before she died.

Freund (1908-2000) was one of the first female members of Magnum Photos, and photographed a series of renowned writers and artists over the course of her illustrious career, including Vladimir Nabokov, Virgina Woold and James Joyce.

Her photos of Kahlo are appearing for the first time this month in Frida Kahlo: The Gisèle Freund Photographs. Come take a look at some of our favourite images from the book, below. 

Frida

Above: A moment of reflection (©Gisèle Freund / IMEC / Fonds MCC)

Frida Kahlo

Above: Feeding the ducks (© IMEC / Fonds MCC / Dist. Rmn / Photo Gisèle Freund)

Frida

Above: Frida in her home (©Gisèle Freund / IMEC / Fonds MCC)

Frida

Above: A rare and detailed portrait (©Gisèle Freund / IMEC / Fonds MCC)

Frida Kahlo

Above: Frida in her bed (©Gisèle Freund / IMEC / Fonds MCC)

Frida

Above: Frida outside La Casa Azul, the home she shared with Diego Rivera (©Gisèle Freund / IMEC / Fonds MCC)

Frida Kahlo

Above: Frida at work (©Gisèle Freund / IMEC / Fonds MCC)

x

Above: Photographer Gisèle Freund with Diego Rivera (©Gisèle Freund / IMEC / Fonds MCC)

cover

Frida Kahlo: The Gisèle Freund Photographs by Gisèle Freund, text by Gerard de Cortanze (Abrams, £15.99) is out now

Related

2661198 (1).jpg

Young and in love: a look at history's most iconic couples on camera

beyonce.jpg

Behold, the best celebrity Halloween costumes of 2014

taylor-burton.jpg

History's most powerful and poignant love letters

tumblr_njugykqKCM1rebdgoo3_1280.jpg

Hard-hitting photos show the pressure on women to be attractive

gigihero.jpg

World-famous beauty icons turn 'pretty ugly' for CR Fashion Book

suffhero.jpg

50 feminist icons

Comments

More

Ellen DeGeneres returning to stand-up comedy with Netflix special

The 'funniest person in America' returns

by Nicola Colyer
26 May 2017

Homeless man who helped injured in Manchester attack offered rent

“He’s helped a lot of people, if I can help him, that’s really it.”

by Amy Swales
25 May 2017

Bataclan survivor offers words of hope to Manchester attack witnesses

“I want to tell you something that may seem hard to believe right now: it gets better.”

by Amy Swales
25 May 2017

The best A-list Instagrams from the week so far

From antics in Cannes to Reese Witherspoon's mother-son selfie

by Nicola Colyer
25 May 2017

Diane Kruger says she’s “never been paid as much as a male co-star”

She's been working in Hollywood for 16 years. Just let that sink in.

by Moya Crockett
25 May 2017

Elizabeth Banks is directing a Charlie’s Angels reboot

And it’s finally got an official release date

by Moya Crockett
25 May 2017

Millennials, Helen Mirren has shared her top 5 rules for a happy life

And they're seriously badass

by Kayleigh Dray
24 May 2017

Melania Trump once again refuses to hold her husband's hand on camera

President Donald Trump has tried to grab his wife’s hand twice on camera – and been expertly swatted away each time

by Kayleigh Dray
24 May 2017

People share messages of defiance after Manchester terror attack

“Don't be afraid. Dance until you're dizzy”

by Sarah Biddlecombe
23 May 2017

The Royal Family thank people of Manchester following terror attack

“I would like to express my admiration for the way the people of Manchester have responded”

by Amy Swales
23 May 2017