Frida Kahlo was born Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderon in Coyoacan, Mexico, July 6, 1907. She was one of four daughters born to a Hungarian-Jewish father and a mother of Spanish and Mexican Indian descent. She originally did not plan to become an artist. A survivor of polio, she entered a pre-med program in Mexico City.
At the age of 18, she was seriously injured in a bus accident and spent more than a year in bed recovering from fractures to her spine, collarbone, ribs, pelvis, and shoulder and foot injuries. She endured more than 30 operations in her lifetime and during her convalescence she began to paint. Her paintings, mostly self-portraits and still life, were deliberately naïve, and filled with the colors and forms of Mexican folk art.
At 22 she married the famous Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, 20 years her senior. Their stormy, passionate relationship survived infidelities, the pressures of careers, divorce, remarriage, Frida's bi-sexual affairs, her poor health and her inability to have children. Frida once said: "I suffered two grave accidents in my life…One in which a streetcar knocked me down and the other was Diego." The streetcar accident left her crippled physically and Rivera crippled her emotionally.
During her lifetime, Frida created some 200 paintings, drawings and sketches related to her experiences in life, physical and emotional pain and her turbulent relationship with Diego. She produced 143 paintings, 55 of which are self-portraits. When asked why she painted so many self-portraits, Frida replied: "Because I am so often alone....because I am the subject I know best."