Frida Kahlo lived fewer than 50 years, but hers was an intensely examined life, and one that enthusiasts all over the world are still poring over. As a child in the suburbs of Mexico City, Kahlo, born in 1907, survived polio. As a teenager already enrolled in premedical studies, her body was brought forcefully to her attention again by a bus accident whose physical repercussions would shape the rest of her days, crucially inform her artwork and eventually kill her. Kahlo was already a painter when she married the political muralist Diego Rivera at 22, a volatile pairing that survived much unrest and one divorce and remarriage. She had her first solo exhibition in 1938, at New Yorkis Julien Levy Gallery, and saw some growth in her career before her death in 1954, but nothing like the steady, exponential increase of interest and respect that has continued since. Exhibits, books and reproductions abound, and 2002 saw the release of a high-profile feature film about her life starring Salma Hayek.
Elizabeth Carpenter is a Guest Curator in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and a Curatorial Assistant at the Walker Art Center.