Would have Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keeffe become famous without their husbands?


Brooke Padgett, Sr High Staff Writer

Art has been and always will be a difficult industry to make a breakthrough and become popular in since success is based on the public. Some artists get lucky breaks to become popular but many do not ever become popular. Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keeffe are two great “what if” questions of the art industry. What if their husbands did not influence their work or popularity? Would Kahlo and O’Keeffe ever have their breakthrough onto the art scene? Kahlo and O’Keeffe would have because they had talent and the determination to become popular without their husband’s influence. 

Frida Kahlo is the perfect example of a woman that other women can look up to because of their determination. Kahlo’s whole life was filled with struggles even before Diego Rivera came into her life. Starting with her bus accident that would leave her in extreme amounts of pain, she kept going with starting her art career. Even after spine surgery in 1946 that did nothing to help her pain, Kahlo painted her piece “The Wounded Deer”. While this painting was after she met Rivera, it still shows the amount of determination and perseverance she had, something Rivera could have never given her. And without it, she would have never made any of her art. Kahlo has many famous quotes, including “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.” Rivera was a horrible husband who often cheated which contributed to her feelings of being alone. It would have been easy for Kahlo to quit and not create her many self-portraits such as “Self Portrait with Cropped Hair’ and “Two Fridas”. Yet, Kahlo continued to paint which Riviera had nothing to do with, proving that even if Kahlo had never met Rivera, she would still be famous because of her determination. 

Georgia O’Keeffe’s success is often attributed to her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, but O’Keeffe had a pure talent for art that would have risen to fame even if she had never met Stieglitz. O’Keeffe started her art career early since her family encouraged her art. After studying art at college, she painted her famous charcoal drawings. The charcoal drawings stood out from any of the art during the time because of her use of value, lines, and composition. These paintings would stand out to Stieglitz and cause her to have her whole life turned upside down. However, even though Stieglitz had “discovered” her, her art easily stood out and could have been easily discovered by anyone else. O’Keeffe also had an incredible amount of drive just like Kahlo. Later in her life, O’Keeffe’s eyesight would deteriorate and she continued to paint, “I can see what I want to paint. The thing that makes you want to create is still there.” Specifically, she painted, “ Like an Early Blue Abstraction” while having her eyesight deteriorate. Her passion for art stayed with her throughout her entire life proving that Stieglitz was not the reason for her talent. Had he been, she would not have continued with art even after it became difficult. 

Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keeffe are amazing role models to everyone. Despite having horrible husbands and tragic lives. They continued to follow their passion without ever letting someone’s opinion or anything else hold them back. Their passion, talent, and massive amounts of determination are the reasons why Kahlo and O’Keeffe’s husbands were not the reason why they had such successful careers.


Works Cited 

“About Georgia O’Keeffe – the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.” The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, 31 May 2022, www.okeeffemuseum.org/about-georgia-okeeffe.

“Drawing XIII.” metmuseum.org.

Fruit of Life – by Frida Kahlo. www.fridakahlo.org/fruit-of-life.jsp.

Street, Bethan. “Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera | Romance & Heartbreak.” Rise Art, 26 Feb. 2019, www.riseart.com/guide/2291/art-world-news-frida-kahlo-and-diego-rivera-romance-and-heartbreak.

The Vision & Art Project. “Georgia O’Keeffe.” The Vision & Art Project, 7 Feb. 2022, visionandartproject.org/artists/okeeffe-georgia-bio.

The Wounded Deer, 1946 by Frida Kahlo. www.fridakahlo.org/the-wounded-deer.jsp.