Frida Kahlo

On this date in 1907, Frida Kahlo was born in Mexico, the daughter of an immigrant Jewish father and a Mexican/indigenous Roman Catholic mother. Her painting career was born of pain and boredom during a lengthy convalescence following impalement in a horrific streetcar accident. The 18-year-old suffered a broken spine and pelvis, 11 leg fractures and a crushed foot, but learned to walk again. Frida famously married painter Diego Rivera in 1929 and divorced him for infidelity in 1940. They remarried the next year. Diego encouraged her to adopt her trademark, colorful Mexican garb. The strikingly beautiful woman also boasted a trademark "unibrow," which she meticulously documented in her many self-portraits. Kahlo was a self-professed atheist who sometimes wove blasphemous themes into her surreal paintings. She depicted herself, for instance, as a secular, medical martyr. Unhappy with U.S. values during an extended stay there in the 1930s, she painted a montage of images that included a dollar sign wrapped across the cross on a church. She mixed Christian and Aztec images in some paintings. Frida once referred to Diego as the second major accident of her life. The tempestuous radicals were always controversial in private and public lives. Although Frida was rumored to have had a love affair with the exiled Trotsky, she painted an adulatory picture in 1954 called "Stalin and I." Her accident was a lifelong disability, forcing her to have more than 30 operations and causing immense pain. Shortly before her death, her right leg had to be amputated below the knee. She died at 47, probably of her own hand. The New York Times obituary reported that she was believed to be the first woman to sell a painting to the Louvre. Actress Salma Hayek fought hard to bring to life the movie "Frida" (2002), in which she portrayed the artist and acted as a co-producer. D. 1954.

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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