Frida Kahlo

Word Count
Santa Monica College
Emma Molloy
Prof. Adams
8 September 2017
Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo was an exemplary Mexican painter during the early 20th century. She
experienced a great deal of tragedy in life and expressed this through her art. Frida’s style
was surrealist, but she also embodied characteristics of Irving Howe’s “The Culture of
Modernism.” Kahlo fit into this definition because she did not intend to “remake the world,”
instead she declared, “I painted my own reality” (Howe 4; qtd. in Morrison 11). Kahlo’s
identity not only influenced her work, it defined it. She depicted her various illnesses’ in
order to blatantly address the subject of her own death and to inspire a revolution from
normal behavior.
Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón was born in Coyoacán, a suburb of
Mexico City, on the sixth of July in 1907 to Matilde Calderón y González and Guillermo Kahlo
(Kettenmann 7). Kahlo had polio as a child, and to make matters worse at the age of
eighteen she sustained near-fatal injuries in a bus accident (Tibol 2). During her recovery
Frida was confined to bed, so painting became her sanctuary. Her mother even installed a
mirror on the top of the four-poster bed so Frida could complete self-portraits (Morrison 9).
She lay in bed, with a broken body, and used herself as a model. When commenting on her
choice of genre Frida declared, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am
the subject I know best” (qtd. in Kettenmann 18). Later in life, Kahlo painted Self-Portrait