Frida Kahlo Biography

Frida Kahlo was a renowned Mexican artist, well known for her self-portraits. Read this biography to learn more about her childhood, life, works, achievements and timeline

Frida Kahlo
Quick Facts

Birthday: July 6, 1907

Nationality: Mexican

Famous: Quotes By Frida Kahlo Bisexual

Died At Age: 47

Sun Sign: Cancer

Also Known As: Frida Kahlo de Rivera

Born in: Coyoacán

Famous as: Painter


Spouse/Ex-: Diego Rivera (m. 1929–1939)

father: Guillermo Kahlo

mother: Carl Wilhelm Kahlo

Died on: July 13, 1954

place of death: Coyoacán

Cause of Death: Drug Overdose

Diseases & Disabilities: Polio

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Frida Kahlo was a great Mexican painter best known for her self-portraits. She combined traditional Mexican folk art with surrealism, making her paintings a symbolic form of self-expression. A self-taught artist, painting was not her first choice as a career, until a tragic incident changed her destiny and left her severely injured. She spent most of her recovery time painting and later went on to choose this as a medium to convey her pain and suffering. Some of her most notable works include 'Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird’, ‘Memory or The Heart’, ‘Henry Ford Hospital’, ‘The Broken Column’, ‘Me and My Parrot’, ‘Self Portrait with Monkeys’, ‘What I saw in the Water’ and ‘The Dream’. One of the best known artists of the 20th century, Kahlo spent her entire life in chronic pain, infertility and disability. Leading an unhappy marital life, Kahlo had several extramarital affairs and was one of the most sexually liberated women of her times.

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Frida Kahlo
Childhood & Early Life
  • Frida Kahlo was born in Coyoac�n, Mexico to Guillermo Kahlo, a photographer and Matilde Calder�n y Gonz�lez.
  • In 1922, she started attending ‘Escuela Nacional Preparatoria’, one of Mexico’s leading schools. She grew up at the time of the Mexican Revolution and witnessed many incidents of violence and armed struggle.
  • In 1924, she learned photography skills from her father and was taught how to use the camera and develop photographs. This experience would later help in her future endeavours.
  • Before the bus accident of 1925, she worked as an apprentice under Fernando Fernandez, a commercial paint maker. He taught her the basics of drawing and copy printing.
  • On September 17, 1925, she suffered serious injuries as a result of an accident - the bus she was travelling in collided with a trolley car. She suffered severe and multiple injuries.
  • In 1926, while she was recovering from injuries, she experimented with panting and tried her hand at watercolours and oil paints. The following year, she recovered and became a member of the Young Communist League.
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  • In 1930, she moved to San Francisco with her husband Diego, where he had been offered a project to paint murals. She met many prominent personalities from the field of art and painted ‘Frieda and Diego Rivera’, a portrait.
  • In 1931, she displayed her work to the public for the first time at the ‘Sixth Annual Exhibition of the San Francisco Society of Women Artists’. Here, she displayed ‘Frieda and Diego Rivera’, a portrait of her and Diego Rivera.
  • In May 1931, she returned alone to Mexico and her husband joined her in June. In November that year, she travelled to New York with her husband via sea to attend his retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.
  • In 1937, four of her paintings were showcased at the Galeria de Arte, National Autonomous University of Mexico. This was the first public exhibition of her art work in Mexico.
  • In 1938, she met French poet and surrealist Andre Breton, who had a look at her unfinished painting ‘What the Water Gave Me’ He labelled it as a surreal work and offered to display her art in Paris.
  • Later in 1938, four of her paintings were purchased by art collector and actor Edward G. Robinson, who paid $200 for each of the paintings. This was one of her noteworthy sales.
  • In October 1938, she travelled to New York in order to showcase her first solo exhibition, which was held at the Julien Levy Gallery. She displayed twenty five of her paintings and more than half of them were sold.
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  • In 1939, she displayed her art works at the ‘Mexique’ exhibition in Paris, which opened at the Colle Gallery. Her self-portrait ‘The Frame’ was purchased by Louvre, the largest Museum in the world.
  • In 1940, her paintings ‘The Two Fridas’ and ‘The Wounded Table’ were displayed at the International Surrealism Exhibition, which was held at the Gallery of Mexican Art.
  • Later in 1940, she travelled to San Francisco to display her work at the exhibition of ‘Contemporary Mexican Painting and Graphic Art’, which was held at the Palace of Fine Art.
  • In 1941, her art work was displayed at the ‘Modern Mexican Painters’ exhibition, which was held at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in Boston. The following year, she was a participant at the Seminar of Mexican Culture.
  • In 1942, she displayed her ‘Self-Portrait with Braid’ at the exhibition ‘20th Century Portraits’, which opened at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
  • In January 1943, she participated in the ‘Exhibition by 31 Women’ which was part of the ‘Art of This Century’ exhibition that opened at New York. The same year, she displayed her works at the ‘Mexican Artists’ exhibition in New York.
  • In 1944, she displayed her works in the group show exhibition titled, Gallery of Contemporary Painters’ at New York. The same year, she also held two exhibitions in Mexico, called the ‘Second Salon of the Flower’ and ‘The Child in Mexican Painting’.
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  • In 1947, her painting ‘Self-Portrait as a Tehuana’ was displayed at the exhibition titled ‘Forty-Five Self-Portraits by Mexican Painters from the 18th to the 20th Centuries’ held at the National Institute of Fine Arts in Mexico.
  • In 1949, her works ‘Diego and I’ and ‘The Love Embrace of the Universe, the Earth (Mexico), Me, Diego, and Mr. X�lotl’ was displayed at the ‘Salon de la Pl�stica Mexicana’.
  • In 1953, her solo art exhibition was held at the Galer�a de Arte Contempor�neo, Mexico. In spite of being bedridden and ill, she attended the opening ceremony of the exhibition.
Major Works
  • Her self-portrait 'Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird’ is one of her seminal works. In this painting she depicted herself as a victim, wearing a necklace of thorns. This has been showcased in over 25 museums in the United States and also in countries like Australia, Canada, France, and Spain.
  • Her painting, ‘The Broken Column’, painted right after she underwent spine surgery, is one of her most important works and was a metaphorical depiction of the suffering. This painting is symbolic of her physical and psychological struggles.
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Awards & Achievements
  • In 1946, she received the National Prize of Arts and Sciences, which was conferred upon her by the Ministry of Public Education.
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Personal Life & Legacy
  • At the age of six, she was affected by polio. In 1925, she met with an accident that resulted in a severe spinal injury, broke her ribs, pelvis, dislocated her shoulder and right foot and also damaged her uterus and abdomen.
  • In 1929, she married Diego Rivera, a Mexican painter. However, the marriage was not a fulfilling one. She, being a bisexual, had affairs with both women and men. They eventually divorced 1939.
  • All her life, she suffered from health problems and underwent several operations as a result of the deadly accident she met in 1925.
  • In 1931, she got involved in an extra-marital affair with photographer, Nickolas Muray. Their affair went on for ten years.
  • Some of the people she was intimately involved with included, Isamu Noguchi and Josephine Baker.
  • She died at the age of 47 in Mexico due to lung failure. She had been bedridden and ill with gangrene.
  • In 2002, actress Salma Hayek portrayed her role in the Academy Award nominated biographical film ‘Frida’.
  • This acclaimed Mexican female painter wore a uni-brow and never waxed her facial hair. All her self-portraits revealed a sprouting moustache and a thick uni-brow.

See the events in life of Frida Kahlo in Chronological Order

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- Frida Kahlo Biography
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Last Updated
- July 21, 2017

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