As a child, she contracted polio, and as a teenager, she miraculously survived a serious bus accident. The accident caused her pain for the rest of her life; she had to go through more than 30 surgeries. She studied to become a physician, but as she was immobilized in the aftermath of the accident, she began to paint, which became her greatest passion. Of her 143 paintings, 55 are self-portraits. She obsessively returned to the theme, like Cézanne to painting apples or Van Gogh to sunflowers. Her physical and psychological wounds as well as the turbulent marriage with Diego Rivera, to whom she was married twice, are distinctively reflected in her magical and colorful canvases. Just like him, she was a revolutionist, fascinated by the idea of communism. Her art is inspired by history and the spirit of the times, during which cultural and social transformation led to the Mexican Revolution.
The completely independent and autonomous language of artistic expression made her the icon of 20th-century painting. This, however, didn’t happen until the 1980s. All her life, she was overshadowed by her successful husband, she had few exhibitions, and didn’t sell her works. Andrew Breton and the surrealists saw a kindred spirit in her. Frida Kahlo denied it, saying she was only painting the reality around her. Pablo Picasso and Wassily Kandinsky also admired her paintings.