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home > frida! > Frida Kahlo, Mexican Painter, 1907-1954

Frida Kahlo, Mexican Painter, 1907-1954

On July 6, 1907, Magdalena Carmen Frida Calderon Kahlo was born in Coyoacán, Mexico in the Blue House, Casa Azul, that her father had built for his family. Frida was the third of three daughters born to Guillermo and Matilde Kahlo, Matilde and Adriana being the two older sisters and Christina the youngest of the family. At age six, Frida contracted polio which left her right leg deformed. At age eighteen, the wooden bus in which she and her boyfriend Alejandro Gomez Arias was riding was stuck by a trolly. Frida was impaled by a metal handrail, entering through her spine and coming out through her pelvis. Her spine was broken in three places; her pelvis was fractured; her collarbone, two ribs, and her right leg and foot were all broken; her left shoulder was dislocated. She was not expected to live. It was during this time of convalescence from the accident that Frida began to paint. She recovered from the accident and for several years resumed normal life activities. In 1929 she married the charismatic and talented painter Diego Rivera. She was 22 years old and 100 pounds; Diego was 42 years old and 300 pounds. Being the wife of Diego, Frida traveled with him and met well-known artists, writers, politicians, and societal celebrities and the couple themselves became even more famous. Their relationship was both tender and loving and stormy and tumultuous. In the 25 years that they were together, they would divorce and remarry and each would have numerous affairs. Frida's injuries from the accident would never heal and would progressively get worse, with countless surgeries, treatments, miscarriages, and the amputation of her right leg below the knee. It was through her art that she expressed her physical and emotional sufferings. She literally transformed her life by continually painting herself, and she painted only for herself. Frida Kahlo died in 1954 at the age of 47, in the Blue House, where she was born.

For more information about Frida, read "About Her Work," "A Brief Life, A Brief Time Line," and "Bibliography and Resources."

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