By Angela Padrón

Frida Kahlo is a famous Mexican artist whose work and life is still admired today. She is most known for her surrealistic self-portraits, her political activism, and her marriage to the famous painter Diego Rivera.

At six years old, Frida was diagnosed with polio. After recovering, she was left with a limp due to damage to her right leg and foot. In 1925, Kahlo was riding on a bus when it collided with a car. Kahlo suffered serious injuries, including an impaled hip and fractures to her spine and pelvis. It was after this accident and during her recovery that Kahlo started to paint. She also joined the Young Communist League and the Mexican Communist Party.

In 1928, Kahlo began a relationship with Diego Rivera, whom she married the next year. Rivera encouraged her to continue developing her art. Kahlo suffered from several miscarriages and pain from her conditions, and chose to depict these personal periods of her life and other morbid and depressing topics through her paintings.

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One of her most famous works, The Two Fridas, was completed in 1939. In the painting, there are two versions of Frida, one dressed in white with a bleeding heart and another dressed in bold colors with her complete heart exposed. Many people believe these figures represent Kahlo’s feelings of being loved and unloved.

In 1941, Frida was commissioned by the Mexican government to paint portraits of important women in Mexico. However, due to the death of her father and continued suffering from her health issues, she was unable to complete the assignment. This did not stop her from painting, though. In 1944, she finished a painting called The Broken Column. In the work, Frida depicts herself wearing a brace around a shattered spinal column and skin covered with nails and tacks. It was a way for her to artistically explain her suffering and describe her challenge with wearing corsets designed to fix her back.

Sadly, no treatment relieved Kahlo of all of her pain. In 1950, she developed an infection in her foot, which lead to a long stay at the hospital and several surgeries. Though debilitated, Kahlo was still able to participate in exhibitions of her work. But soon after a show in Mexico, part of her right leg had to be removed to stop the infection from spreading. She continued to suffer from health issues, including deeper depression and pneumonia. At the age of 47, Kahlo passed away from a blood clot in the lungs.

Kahlo’s popularity continued to grow even after her death. Her home opened as a museum in 1958, and in 2002 the movie “Frida” starring Salma Hayek was released. There’s no doubt that Frida Kahlo’s strong, creative spirit will forever be remembered through her unique works of art.

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