Creative Minds: Frida Kahlo and Salvador Dali

The famous painters are distinctive in their own right.

What comes to mind when you first think of Frida Kahlo and Salvador Dali? Kahlo’s intricate self-portraits, her famous unibrow, and her passionate personality stand out. Dali’s eccentricity, his trademark mustache, and the often bizarre imagery of his paintings made a mark.

Frida Kahlo’s work is internationally renowned for their portrayal of nature, Mexican traditions, and the unabashed celebration of the female experience. When tagged with the “surrealist” label, she rejected it by arguing that her works were more grounded in reality than in dreams. On the other hand, Dali’s paintings are best known for their bizarre and dream-like imagery. In fact, he is one of the most prominent surrealist artists.

Kahlo was born on July 6, 1907 in a town on the outskirts of Mexico City. An accident at 18 left her severely injured and in a great deal of pain, due to which she had to abandon her dreams of pursuing a medical career. She took up painting in her recovery period, with self-portraits being a major motif. Dali too faced tragedies in life. Born on May 11, 1904 in the Catalan region of Spain, Dali was considered to be a reincarnation of his deceased brother by his parents. By age 16, Dali lost his mother to breast cancer, which he described as the greatest blow to his life. He studied in Madrid, where his career started when his cubist paintings drew a lot of attention from peers.

Kahlo’s proclivity for self-portraits is evident in the large body of her work. While Dali explored surrealism in his work, he did enjoy being photographed with unusual props striking poses. Hollywood actress Salma Hayek starred in the 2002 film Frida about the painter. It met with great success; unlike the 2008 film Little Ashes based on Salvador Dali’s life. It sank without a trace at the box office. They are also style icons – Kahlo’s colorful blouses and long skirts are her signature. She also wore vivid flowers in her braided hair to complete the picture. Dali was also known for his flamboyant sense of style. Additionally, he also designed clothes that perfectly matched his outlandish personality.

Even then, it cannot be denied that Dali is more universally known than Kahlo. In fact, it is hard to broach the topic of the greatest artists of the last century and not mention Salvador Dali.

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