National Museum of Women in the Arts
Frida Kahlo
July 06 1907 - July 13 1954
Place of Birth:
Mexico City
Phonetic Spelling:
FREE-dah KAH-loh
Work Type/Media:
Artistic Role(s):
Oil Painter, Painter, Portraitist, Self-taught Artist
Other, Surrealism
Artist's Biography:
From 1926 until her death, the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo created striking, often shocking, images that reflected her turbulent life. Kahlo was the third of four daughters born to a German Hungarian-Jewish father and a mother of Spanish and Mexican Indian descent, in the Mexico City suburb of Coyoacán.

She did not originally plan to become an artist. A polio survivor, at fifteen Kahlo entered the premedical program at the prestigious National Preparatory School in Mexico City. However, this training ended three years later when Kahlo was gravely hurt in a bus accident. She spent more than a year in bed, recovering from multiple fractures of her back, collarbone, and ribs, as well as a shattered pelvis and shoulder and foot injuries. Despite more than thirty subsequent operations, Kahlo spent the rest of her life in constant pain, finally succumbing to related complications at the age of forty-seven.

During her convalescence Kahlo began to paint with oils. Her pictures, mostly self-portraits and still lifes, were deliberately naïve, filled with the bright colors and flattened forms of the Mexican folk art she had always loved. At twenty-one, Kahlo met and fell in love with the famous Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, whose approach to art and political activism complemented her own. Although he was twenty years her senior, they were married in 1929; this stormy, passionate relationship survived marital infidelities, the pressures of Rivera’s career, a divorce and remarriage, and Kahlo’s deteriorating health. The couple traveled to the United States and France, where Kahlo encountered luminaries from the worlds of art and politics; she had her first one-woman exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York in 1938. Kahlo enjoyed considerable international success during the 1940s, but her reputation soared posthumously, beginning in the 1980s with the publication of numerous books about her work by feminist art historians and others. In the last two decades an explosion of Kahlo-inspired films, plays, calendars, and jewelry has transformed the artist into a veritable cult figure.

Other Occupation(s):
Activist, Professor
Place(s) of Residence:
San Francisco
Where Trained/Schools:
Private lessons, Mexico City, Mexico (1925) National Preparatory School, Mexico City, Mexico (1922-1925)
Related Visual Artists:
daughter of Guillermo Kahlo, wife of Diego Rivera, student of Fidencio L. Naba, lover and student of Fernando Fernández, teacher of Arturo García Bustos, teacher of Fanny Rabel, teacher of Guillermo Monroy, teacher of Arturo Estrada, lover and friend of Isamu Noguchi, lover and friend of Nickolas Murray, friend of Juan O'Gorman, friend of Marcel Duchamp, friend of Pablo Picasso, friend of Joseph Cornell, friend of Irene Bohus, friend of Leonora Carrington, friend of Esteban Frances, friend of Doctor Atl, friend of Lola Alvarez Bravo, friend of Machilda Armida, friend of Miguel Covarrubias, friend of Rosa Rolando, friend of Marcel Duchamp, friend of André Breton, friend of Jacqueline Breton, friend of Wassily Kandinsky, friend of Alice Rahon, friend of Wolfgang Paalen
Fellowships, grants and awards:
Grant, Mexican Government, Mexico City, Mexico (1946) National Prize of Arts and Sciences, Education Ministry, Mexico City, Mexico (1946)
Earliest exhibition:
Sixth Annual Exhibition, San Francisco Society of Women Artists, San Francisco, CA, USA (1931)
NMWA exhibition(s):
Lola Alvarez Bravo: Portraits of Frida Kahlo
Four Centuries of Women's Art: The National Museum of Women in the Arts
Preserving the Past, Securing the Future: Donations of Art, 1987-1997
Places of Their Own: Emily Carr, Georgia O�Keeffe, Frida Kahlo
Latin American Women Artists, 1915-1995
Artist retrospective(s):
Frida Kahlo, Tate Modern, London, England (2005) The World of Frida Kahlo, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Germany and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, USA (1993) Galería de Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City, Mexico (1953)
Related places
Mexico City (died at)
Itzcuintli Dog with Me
Self-Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky
Related Visual Artists
Leonora Carrington