Frida Kahlo: Trauma, Abjection, and Affect

Frida Kahlo: Biography

Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) was born in Mexico City, Mexico. Her life was one that no one should have to experience - a life of pain and isolation - but a life she continued to live through all of her hardships. As a child, she was fascinated with animals and insects, and she wanted to become a doctor when she was older. At the age of six, she contracted polio which left her leg thin and weak, and her foot deformed. Many of her schoolmates made fun of her which is likely to be the reason for her rebellion and independence as a teenager. Already at such a young age, Kahlo spent much of her life in pain. In 1925, when she was eighteen, a trolley car crashed into a bus she was travelling on and crushed her, breaking almost every bone in her body, including her spine. Her pelvis and genitalia were impaled by a steel rod. Bedridden, bored and lonely, Kahlo started to paint.

After her marriage to Diego Rivera in 1929, she went to New York with him but found herself homesick and lonely once again. Shortly after, in 1939, they divorced and Kahlo moved back to Mexico. Their divorce did not last long, however, and they remarried in 1940 after only a year of being apart. It was during this separation that she started developing her art and became a well-established artist in her own right. Over the next few years, her art was displayed in galleries around the world. But eventually, she could not attend the openings because of the pain in her leg and she was bedridden in a body cast because of her fragile back. Kahlo died in her sleep when she was forty-seven years old. A few years later, her Blue House (her childhood home) became the Frida Kahlo Museum and thirty years after that, the Mexican government declared Kahlo’s work a national treasure.

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