Self portrait of Frida Kahlo in a long embroidered skirt, fringed shawl, and delicate gold jewelry. She is holding a bouquet of flowers and a letter.

Frida Kahlo

1907–1954

Artist Details

Birth Place
Coyoacán, Mexico
Death Place
Coyoacán, Mexico
Phonetic Spelling
FREE-dah KAH-loh
Medium
Painting
Style
Surrealism
Places of Residence
Coyoacán, Mexico; San Francisco; Detroit, Michigan
Training
Private lessons, Mexico City, 1925; National Preparatory School, Mexico City, 1922–25
Retrospective Exhibitions

Frida Kahlo. Paintings and drawings from Mexico’s collections, Faberge Museum, St. Petersburg, 2016;

Frida Kahlo, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2008; 

Frida Kahlo, Tate Modern, London, 2005;

The World of Frida Kahlo, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Germany; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, 1993;

Galería de Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City, 1953

NMWA Exhibitions

Mamacita Linda: Letters between Frida Kahlo and her Mother

Places of Their Own: Emily Carr, Georgia O’Keeffe, Frida Kahlo, 2002

Preserving the Past, Securing the Future: Donations of Art, 1987–1997, 1997

Latin American Women Artists, 1915–1995, 1996

Lola Alvarez Bravo: Portraits of Frida Kahlo, 1991

Four Centuries of Women’s Art: The National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1990

About the Artist

Mexican painter Frida Kahlo is known for creating striking, often shocking, self-portraits that reflected her political ideology, cultural identity, and her turbulent personal life.

Kahlo was the third of four daughters born to a German Hungarian-Jewish father and a mother of Spanish and Mexican Indian descent. She did not originally plan to become an artist; rather, Kahlo, who was a polio survivor, entered a prestigious pre-medical program when she was 15. Three years later, 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. Kahlo spent the rest of her life in constant pain, finally succumbing to related complications at the age of 47.

During her recovery, Kahlo started painting in oils, creating deliberately naive self-portraits and still lifes filled with the bright colors and flattened forms of the Mexican folk art she had always loved. In 1929, Kahlo married the much older Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, whose approach to art and political activism complemented her own. Theirs was a volatile relationship that underwent marital infidelities, the pressures of Rivera’s career, a divorce and remarriage, and Kahlo’s deteriorating health.

Kahlo and Rivera traveled to the United States and France, where she encountered many influential figures from the worlds of art and politics. In 1938, she had her first solo exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York. She enjoyed international success beginning in the 1940s. Her reputation soared posthumously, beginning in the 1980s with the publication of numerous books about her work by feminist art historians and others. 

National Museum of Women in the Arts