Frida Kahlo was born in 1907 in Coyoacán, Mexico. Her was father was of German-Hungarian descent, while her mother, from Mexico, was of indigenous and Spanish heritage. As a child, she contracted polio, which left her with a slight limp. It was the first of many physical ailments she would endure throughout her lifetime.
In 1922, Kahlo began studying medicine at the National Preparatory School in Mexico City, where she met Diego Rivera. In 1925, she survived a bus accident that caused her to undergo more than 30 surgeries during her life. As she recovered, she taught herself to paint, and upon joining the Mexican Communist Party, she was reunited with Rivera. The two were married in 1929, and from 1930–33, they traveled across the United States, Rivera painting murals and Kahlo painting surrealist portraits and scenes that explored pain, her miscarriage, and her mother’s death, among other topics.
The artists returned to Mexico in 1933 and divorced in 1939 after years of mutual infidelity. In 1940, however, they remarried and moved into Kahlo’s childhood home, La Casa de Azul. During the 1940s, Kahlo painted while teaching at the Education Ministry’s School of Fine Arts. Her health continued to fail, and for her first solo exhibition in 1953, she attended lying on a four-poster bed. She died in 1954 in La Casa de Azul, which four years later was converted into the Museo Frida Kahlo.
Kahlo is one of Mexico’s most renowned and celebrated artists. She was heavily influenced by Mexican folk art as well as Surrealism, Realism, and Symbolism, and her body of work, consisting mainly of self-portraits, examines themes such as physical and emotional pain, passion, death, postcolonialism, class, gender, race, and her own identity, marked by colonial and indigenous ancestry. Kahlo’s work El suicidio de Dorothy Hale (The Suicide of Dorothy Hale) (1939) is the artwork most frequently requested for loan from the Museum’s entire collection of more than 20,000 works.