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Frida Kahlo: 1907—1954: Artist

Affected By Mexican Revolution

Kahlo suffered a bout with polio that left her mildly disabled by age seven; she was left with a limp and a deformed spine. Nevertheless, her father urged her to participate in physical activities that were extraordinarily unusual for a Mexican girl at the time—soccer, swimming, and even wrestling and boxing. Another major formative event of Kahlo's youth was the Mexican Revolution of 1910, after which ideals of equality and a communitarian state became ingrained in Mexican culture. "The clear and precise emotions of the 'Mexican Revolution' were the reason why, at the age of 13, I joined the Communist youth," Kahlo wrote in her diary later in life.

Kahlo's father also encouraged her academically, and in 1922, held back by polio, she entered an elite Mexican high school, the National Preparatory School. That year, the rising Mexican artist Diego Rivera, still several years away from the epic leftist murals that would make him famous in the United States, was hired to paint a mural at the school. Smitten, Kahlo declared to friends that she wanted to have Rivera's child. Rivera spurned her romantic advances at first, but encouraged her as a painter.

At a Glance . . .

Born Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón in Coyoacán, Mexico, near Mexico City, Mexico, on July 6, 1907; daughter of a German-Hungarian Jewish photographer father and a Native Mexican mother; survived polio during childhood; married artist Diego Rivera, 1929; died in Mexico City, July 13, 1954.Education: Attended National Preparatory School, Mexico City, 1922-25.

Career: Painted extensively during recuperation from serious injuries sustained in bus accident, 1925-27; accompanied Rivera to U.S. and formed mature style of her own, early 1930s; solo exhibitions in New York and Paris, late 1930s; health declined as a result of numerous operations to correct problems resulting from bus accident, but remained prolific through 1940s; first solo exhibition in Mexico City, 1953; critical reputation began steady ascent soon after her death, accelerating in 1970s.

Then, in 1925, Kahlo's leg was broken in 11 places when a bus she was riding in Mexico City was split in two by a streetcar; her pelvis and spine were also broken. For the rest of her life Kahlo was troubled by chronic pain. She would also be forced to undergo surgeries of increasing severity. The only positive outcome of the accident was that Kahlo had plenty of time to devote to painting during her long convalescence. Back on her feet some two years later, Kahlo sought out Rivera and asked him to critique her work. This time, although Rivera was more than 20 years older than Kahlo and outweighed her by 200 pounds, romance bloomed and the two were married in 1929.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Dan Jacobson Biography - Dan Jacobson comments: to Barbara Knutson (1959–2005) Biography - PersonalFrida Kahlo: 1907—1954: Artist Biography - Affected By Mexican Revolution, Suffered A Miscarriage, Madonna Collected Kahlo Works