A Peek at Frida Kahlo's Diary

Museo Dolores Olmedo

Frida Kahlo didn't just write in her diary—she also drew in it. Learn more about her through some of her entries.

Frida's Diary: Her Memories
Frida Kahlo's life was expressed through her work. A chronological look at her artwork provides an understanding of the events that changed her life: her passions, motivations, disappointments, and desires. Painting was cathartic for her. However, writing and keeping a diary also helped her to establish a relationship with herself, and to find a way of expressing her afflictions during the final 10 years of her life.

Frida found that writing, as well as painting, was useful not just for communicating with her family and friends—as can be seen in her letters—but also as a way of connecting with her own feelings, conveying her ideas on her artistic practice, and expressing her worries and pains, both physical and emotional.

The pages of her diary reveal the meanings that the artist attributed to colors. Blue, for example, was "electricity and purity," while yellow represented "madness, illness, fear, part of the sun, and happiness."

It was an intimate diary where Frida confided her deepest emotions, such as her love for Diego.

She also wrote down all of her feelings surrounding her physical condition, such as the discomfort that she experienced in the leg affected by childhood polio.

Unlike her paintings, the drawings and paintings in her diary show a creative impulse that was neither planned nor predetermined, but rather a kind of cathartic release.

Certain folk-like elements from Frida's work also appear in the pages of her diary, such as her pets, which were like the children she could never have.

The same is true for evocations of pre-Hispanic Mexico, nature, and duality—all of which were recurring themes in her work.

Frida rejected claims that she was a surrealist, despite the fact that the father of the surrealist movement, André Breton, counted her among its ranks. However, in her introduction to Frida Kahlo's diary, the curator and historian Sarah M. Lowe explains that many of the drawings on its pages reference certain aspects of Breton's "Surrealist Manifesto," which discusses automatism as a way of going beyond the rational mind, in order to set the unconscious mind free.

As part of this automatic action, through writing or drawing, Frida combined various different themes. This page, for example, begins by evoking the date of the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, later including the phrase "Tree of hope, stand fast" (which also appears in one of her paintings), and then appears to dedicate a secret message to Diego.

Her sympathy with political and social movements can also be seen in the pages of her diary, with Lenin, Stalin, and Marx frequently mentioned.

In 1953, the year before her death and following the amputation of her right leg, Frida wrote in her diary one of her most well-known phrases: "Feet, what do I need you for, if I have wings to fly?"

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