An intense, determined, intellectual artist, Frida Kahlo was dedicated to Art, Communism, and Diego Rivera. Her paintings are often associated with Surrealism, and they do indeed share a number of characteristics with the second phase of French Surrealism: an interest in the unconscious; disquieting, often inchoate imagery; and unorthodox subject matter. However, while European Surrealists such as André Breton were inspired by madness and exoticism, Kahlo drew creativity from her own concrete reality, influenced by her physical pain and her ancestry. While European Surrealists saught unfamilar myths and artifacts to help revitalize their art, Kahlo linked herself with the gods and myths of ancient Mexico - the Olmecs, Aztecs, and Toltecs. She made an even more direct connection with her past by adorning herself with jewelry which incorporated Aztec symbols, and wearing a tlacoyal: an indigenous headdress of brightly colored wool cords or fabrics braided into her hair.
Though born Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón on July 6, 1907, to Matilde Calderón y González and Guillermo Kahlo, she claims 1910 - the year of the Mexican Revolution as her birth year.
In 1914, Kahlo contracts polio, the first in a life-long series of physical problems.
In 1922, Kahlo studies pre-medicine at the national Preparatory School, a state-run post-secondary school, where she meets Diego Rivera who is painting a mural at the school.
In 1925, Kahlo is in a bus accident and breaks her pelvic bone, spinal column, and sustains other severe injuries. During this time of convalescence, she begins painting.
In 1926, Kahlo paints "Self-Portrait Wearing a Velvet Dress," the first of many self-portraits.
In 1927, Kahlo joins the Young Communist League.
In 1928, Rivera paints Kahlo in his fresco "Distribution of Arms" at the Ministry of Education.
In 1929, Kahlo marries Rivera and the couple travel to the United States.
In 1931, Kahlo's "Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera" is shown at the Sixth Annual Exhibition of the San Francisco Society of Women Artists - the first public showing of her work.
In 1932, Kahlo miscarries and spends two weeks in the Henry Ford Hospital.
In 1934, Kahlo has an appendectomy, an abortion, and an operation on her foot. During the summer, she and Rivera separate after she discovers that he has been having an affair with her sister Cristina.
In 1935, Kahlo meets sculptor Isamu Noguchi in Mexico and they have an affair.
In 1936, the Spanish Civil War breaks out, and Kahlo and Rivera work for the Republicans raising money for Mexicans fighting against Francisco Franco's forces.
In 1937, Kahlo befriends Leon Trotsky, who has been granted political asylum in Mexico. Also this year, four of her paintings are included in a group exhibition at the Galería de Arte at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
In November 1938, twenty-five of Kahlo's paintings are exhibited at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York.
In 1939, Kahlo's exhibition "Mexique" opens at the Galerie Renou & Colle in France. Also this year, her divorce from Rivera is finalized.
By 1940, Kahlo's reputation as an artist is established, and her two largest canvases, "The Two Fridas" and "The Wounded Table", are included in the International Exhibition of Surrealism at the Galería de Arte Mexicano; at the Palace of Fine Art in San Francisco, and at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. Also this year, she reconciles with Rivera, and they are re-married on December 8th.
In 1941, Kahlo's father dies, and she suffers from depression which exacerbates her ill health. Also this year, she is one of twenty-five artists and intellectuals chosen by the Ministry of Education to be founders of the Seminar of Mexican Culture. She is also included in the exhibition of Modern Mexican Painters at the Institute of Modern Art in Boston.
In 1943, Kahlo is included in "Exhibition by 31 Women" at the Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century Gallery in New York. She also joins the faculty of the Education Ministry's School of Painting and Sculpture known as "La Esmeralda." Her poor health prevents her from traveling to the campus in Mexico City, so she holds classes in her home. Her four most dedicated students come to be know as "Los Fridos".
During the next few years, Kahlo's physical decline increases and she undergoes spinal taps, confinement in a series of corsets, and several radical operations on her back and leg.
In 1945, Kahlo reads Sigmund Freud's "Moses and Monotheism," and paints her ideas about it.
In 1946, Kahlo is awarded the National Prize of Arts and Sciences by the Ministry of Education. During this year, she also has an affair with a Spanish refugee which lasts until 1952. In June, she has a bone-graft operation in New York and is prescribed massive doses of morphine for the pain.
In 1948, Kahlo reapplies to the Communist Party and is accepted. During this year, Rivera has a public two-year affair with actress Maria Felix.
In 1949, Kahlo's "Portrait of Diego" is shown at the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City. Also this year, gangrene is apparent on her right foot.
During 1950, Kahlo has six operations on her spine due partly to a severe infection in her bone grafts. She spends most of the year in the hospital, with Rivera sleeping in a room next to her.
In 1951, Kahlo is confined to a wheelchair and full-time nurses are required to care for her and giver her injections of pain killers.
In 1952, Kahlo begins a series of still-life paintings.
In 1953, Kahlo's first one-person exhibition opens at Lola Alvarez Bravo's Galería de Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City. In August, her gangrenous right leg is amputated.
On July 2, 1954, Kahlo and Rivera attend a demonstration protesting the United States' CIA intervention in Guatamala.
On July 13, 1954, Frida Kahlo dies. The official cause of death is "pulmonary embolism," but suicide is suspected.
For more information read: "The Diary of Frida Kahlo - An Intimate Self-Portrait."