Frida Kahlo was born Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderon in Mexico
City on 6th July 1907, although she often gave her date of birth as 1910. She was the daughter of a German-Jewish photographer father and a
Mexican Catholic mother. At the age of six she was stricken with polio,
which left her with a permanent weakness in her right leg. She grew up
wanting to be a doctor, but a serious bus accident in 1925 destroyed that
dream. She broke her pelvis, collarbone and several ribs. Her already
weak right leg was fractured in eleven places. Kahlo needed more than
thirty operations and spent so much time in bed that she taught herself
to paint to combat the boredom.
Frida had first met her future husband, Diego Rivera, while she was a
schoolgirl at the National Preparatory School - he had been commissioned
to paint a mural in the auditorium. She showed him some of her early
work and he encouraged her to continue painting. They married in 1929.
After their marriage Kahlo travelled with Rivera across the United States
and Mexico when he took commissions for his murals, but theirs was a
tortured marriage, including rumours of domestic violence and adultery on
both sides. One well founded rumour is that she had an affair
with close friend and well known communist activist and writer Leon Trotsky. Both Kahlo and Rivera were investigated when Trotsky died under suspicious circumstances, although
neither were charged. Frida and Diego divorced in 1940, but unable to be apart they
remarried in 1941.
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera|
on their wedding day
Also in 1940 she participated in the International Exhbition of
Surrealism in Mexico City. In 1943 she was made a professor of painting
at the School of Fine Arts. At the Annual National Exhibition at the
Palace of Fine Arts in 1946 Frida won a prize.
She only held one full exhibition in Mexico, and that was in 1953. She
was in poor health and her doctors advised her not to attend. She
instead had herself taken to the gallery in an ambalance and set up a bed
inside, where she held court. Later in 1953 her right leg had to be
amputated, which left her suffering from depression. She died on 13th of
July 1954. No autopsy was performed so it is hard to say what she died
of, although possibly she took her own life, as she had attempted to
end her life more than once before. After her death her house, now known as the Blue
House, became the Frida Kahlo Museum.
Collage of Frida Kahlo paintings|
Frida Kahlo used painting as an outlet for her feelings of anger and pain.
She began painting after her terrible accident and continued throughout her
torturous marriage. Frida expressed her own suffering, and the suffering,
both physical and emotional, of all women, through her art.