La Columna Rota (The Broken Column) - by Frida Kahlo
University of Texas at El Paso
The Broken Column was one of the last paintings of Kahlo (rhetor) before she died. In this painting Frida portrays herself as a martyr when her health decayed the most and she was obligated to wear a steel corset. The wear looking thing that seems to come out from the bottom of her chin all the way through her waist represents her wounded column, all the pain accumulated from past years, failures and of course what destroyed her the most; Diego Rivera, the love of her life, the one that never stood. Her ripped body and the cracked floor demonstrate this. Frida used good metaphors to illustrate pain. We can see the ethos, pathos, and logos she experienced at time of painting.
Most of Frida’s paintings are dedicated to Diego, it might not be a direct dedication but it always has a message for him. In this one we appreciate the nails piercings on her face and body which represents the pain but the larger one in his heart is the representation of the constant pain that Diego causes to her. Her face also shows how bad she is feeling, you can look at her eyes and you can feel the pain. ‘look very closely at my eyes, the pupils are doves of peace’’ (Kahlo, 1944) Frida draw doves of peace as a dark representation of her way to calm the suffering and joke of her dead life.
Even if she was marry to Diego, she never felt that he was her husband, Diego was a free soul, a player, and he cheated on Frida so many times, left her alone when she was feeling blue because of the lost of her unborn baby. Frida demonstrated to Diego that she was more woman than any of the whores she was with and even that had more talent than he did. It was a disaster of love, but they never left each other side, and that’s what Frida always tried to show in her painting and that the target was her lovely panzon (Diego), all of the mentioned before demonstrate pathos (the emotional part).
Frida, was very famous and talented back in 1910, when all social movements were going on like the Mexican revolution or Porfirio Diaz’ doctrine. Her fame is tone of the proofs of ethos, besides of the fact that her paintings were categorized surrealistic. Also, ethos of her paintings goes hand by hand with her pathos, Frida is very intense, ingénue, and metaphoric which give her the credibility on her work. In addition to this, the tragedies that marked her life gives her the credibility since all her paintings are based on pain, accidents, her own image transmitted to others as she would like them to see her. She was always motivated by her pain.
The logos transmitted in this painting is herself and the symbolism she uses as her visible column which represents her accident that keeps her from moving, the steel nails that might represent all other wounds she had, wounds that from the surface looks healed but deep inside still hurt. The surrounding logically means her fierce need to find happiness but at the same time the persistent threat of her own destruction; as she stated once, ‘Pain is not part of life, but it can turn into life itself’ (Kahlo, 1929).
Frida used to say that she painted herself because she just had nothing better to do and she was the best reason to do so. Her constraints were her motivations. Pain and impotence were her reality and that inspired her to do what she did, at least to make her audience see her as she never could. Also, her paintings were based in oil canvas, which probably if they were not properly protected they would smear or fade by the pass of time. In addition, all that suffering was limit her to just portray the horror, inspire pity and feed her pain and loneliness. Frida’s life was based on bad things and even if she was limited to that she kept on going, she fought until the end, sometimes her pain inspired her to portray herself as a strong woman, and others even if she felt miserable other people made her feel different, somehow she was not vulnerable anymore, the emptiness is filled a little bit.
The exigence of her paintings was mentioned previously; pain. Such exigence needs to be examinated carefully, why pain inspired her so dramatically so she could paint it? This emotion was very strong and it was not only pain itself that the paintings exhaled but deceptions, betrayals and the loneliness.
Frida Kahlo was very famous but she was damaged emotionally and physically. People that are hurt tend to be very persuasive since they inspire pity and they make you feel that pain and she did it every single time she portrayed herself on a painting. Her way of escaping from all suffering was painting and letting people know that she might be broken and for sure she is not going to get better, but she’s still on her feet. Close to her end she painted ‘The Broken Column’ and she didn’t change from previous pictures, but this time we see a Frida that needs support to keep going (The corset), also we see a Frida that even if people has been trying to fix her that is not working since all her tragedies will remain with her until her last hour (nails) and a Frida that deep inside has hope (the pupils). As a famous painter her credibility to transmit emotions trough paints is bigger. Ethos, Pathos, and Logos are found in her portray. To conclude, as a very intense person Frida make her point and convince me of her misery and her constraints intensified this emotions and the credibility.