“Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?” - Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo might have wondered about the purpose of feet, but we know you Socksmith fans aren’t doubting your feet’s true purpose (wearing cool socks, duh). We here at Socksmith have been huge Frida fans for a while now, as is evidenced by our Frida Kahlo collection of bold and colorful socks and masks. The Socksmith X Frida Kahlo partnership started in 2016.
Our mission was to design and create socks which were true to the reality of who Frida Kahlo was - colorful, irreverent, impossible to ignore and unique. Socksmith was founded on the principle that true beauty lies in self-expression. We are in awe of how Frida used her art as a way to communicate not just her pain, but her true self.
That’s why we’re taking this opportunity to celebrate this inspirational feminist artist and icon as our latest featured artist.
“I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.” - Frida Kahlo
Frida was born in Coyoacán, Mexico in 1907. She would later choose to tell people she was born in 1910 so that people would associate her with the Mexican Revolution which began that year. Her mother was a native of Mexico of Spanish and Native American descent, but her father was from Germany and had Hungarian heritage. Frida would later regularly explore the duality of her ancestry in her art. Her father was a professional photographer, which may be why she became so fixated on portraiture - of course the daughter of a photographer is going to get her picture taken a lot!
Frida’s life and art were infused with pain and suffering, much of it stemming from serious health issues. At age six, she caught polio, which left her with a withered right leg and a limp. Far worse for her long-term health was an accident in 1925 when a bus she was riding was hit by a trolley. During her long recovery, she began to focus on painting, especially self-portraiture. Her mother got her a special easel designed for painting in bed and rigged up a mirror in the canopy so Frida could see and paint herself.
“There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the trolley, and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.” - Frida Kahlo
Before the trolley accident, Frida was enrolled in a School in Mexico City with the intention of studying medicine. It was there that she met famous muralist Diego Rivera. Despite being more than two decades older than Frida, Diego soon left his second wife to marry Frida. They quickly became a notable celebrity art and political couple. The relationship was very tumultuous and painful for Frida, due to Diego’s constant affairs, including one with Frida’s younger sister. Frida herself would have multiple affairs with men and women, including one with Leon Trotsky while he was staying with Frida and Diego in Mexico. Still through all this, Frida stayed with Diego, divorcing him in 1939 and remarrying him in 1940, staying married until her death at 47 in 1954.
Diego may have been the bigger artist during Frida’s lifetime, but Frida’s legacy is far greater today. Her popularity started rising in 1983, but she really started trending in pop culture in the 1990s when her paintings started selling for up to $1 million at auction to famous collectors like Madonna, who claimed to identify with the pain and sadness in the paintings. Today Frida’s paintings sell for up to $10 million, a price that puts her up there in leagues with the most major 20th century artists such as Picasso, Pollock, and Warhol.
“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it's true I'm here, and I'm just as strange as you.” - Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo’s legacy has made her even more of an icon ever today, probably because so much of her story resonates with our modern society. She celebrated her native roots and culture through her inclusive multicultural art and her traditional native clothing. She was a proud bisexual and played with gender roles by posing in menswear in early family portraits. Ever the feminist, she painted about subjects rarely seen in male-dominated art at the time - divorce, miscarriage, bloody birth, domestic violence, and infidelity.
Frida Kahlo could just be the mother of all social media influencers. FIrst of all, with 55 of her 143 surviving works being self-portraits, she was clearly a selfie queen. Even without being able to caption her portraits #nofilter or #bodypositivity, she gravitated to portraying herself in a natural way, with her famous mustache and unibrow highlighted, not hidden. More than anything, though, she used her own real pain and suffering to create art and interact with her audience. Her art is autobiographical and confessional, much like basically the entirety of social media today.
So next time you post a selfie with an introspective story of finding triumph through your pain, thank Frida!