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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Frida Kahlo

b. 1907, Coyoacán, Mexico; d. 1954, Coyoacán, Mexico

Frida Kahlo is best known for her large series of self-portraits highly influenced by Mexican popular art. She taught herself to paint after a bus accident in 1925 left her seriously disabled, and Diego Rivera (whom she married in 1929) encouraged her to continue working. In the late 1930s, the surrealists André Breton and Marcel Duchamp helped her paintings gain international exposure through exhibits in Europe and the United States, but her own work was not surrealist; instead of being influenced by dreams, she emphatically declared that she painted her own reality. Many of her paintings chronicled her state of health and her attempts to survive a series of debilitating operations following the accident. She was a prominent feminist activist and a founding member, along with María del Refugio García and Soledad Orozco, of the Sole Front for Women’s Rights. One of her last paintings, Marxism Heals the Sick (1954), referenced the commitment to Communism that she and Rivera shared throughout their lives.