Frida Kahlo was born in a small village in the outskirts of Mexico City in 1907. Her father, Wilhelm, was a German photographer and her mother, Matilde, was from a Spanish and American Indian background.
Wilhelm introduced arts to Frida. From a very young age she was very close to him. She used to help him in his photography studio and also draw. Painting at that time was a hobby for her. She wasn’t thinking of it seriously. Instead, she liked biology and sciences fascinated her. Her dream was to become a doctor one day.
When Frida was growing up, the polio epidemic was still common. At the age of six, she caught the virus and she had to miss many months from school. The illness caused her left leg to become thinner and shorter than her right one. Later, she started wearing skirts to hide her legs. Her colorful long skirts became really popular and her trademark. Her father in order to support his daughter signed her up for sports. This helped young Frida get her strength back.
When she was 18, she was involved in an accident. The wooden bus with which she was travelling crashed with a car. Frida had a terrible injury and she almost lost her life.
As a result of the crash, her spinal column broke and she dislocated her shoulder among other injuries. She did eventually recover, but she had to undergo surgery 35 times in order to survive. She managed to stand back on her feet, however she had to live the rest of her life with chronic pain.
Frida’s long recovery was the reason she started to paint again. She would look at the mirror in her hospital room, and while lying down, she would place an easel in front of her and paint her own portraits.
Throughout her life, Frida Kahlo would paint some 143 paintings. 55 of them were self-portraits. Her paintings would show both her emotional and physical pain. One of her most infamous paintings, ‘The Broken Column’, shows her shattered spine looking like an earthquake fissure.
She also created a painting about a miscarriage she experienced. Due to the accident, her uterus was damaged and as a result, she couldn’t have kids.
During the last years of her life, her health deteriorated. Frida was in and out of the hospital and was using a wheelchair, or crutches to move around. Even in this condition she continued to paint.
In 1953, Frida was excited to be opening her first solo exhibition in Mexico. At the time she was in bad health, and nobody expected her to show up at her exhibition.
She arrived, however, at the gallery in an ambulance, and ordered people to bring her in on a stretcher and move her to a bed, where she was able to enjoy the opening.
Just a few months after that exhibition her health worsened to a point that her right leg had to be amputated. Frida Kahlo remained in bed and became depressed as her dependency on painkillers grew. On 13th of July, she passed away, probably from an overdose.
A few days before her death, she had written in her diary: “I hope the exit is joyful — and I hope never to return — Frida”. She was 47.