Frida Kahlo self portrait with back brace and architectural column as spine.

365 Days of Art: September 17 – Frida Kahlo Severely Injured in Bus Accident

Frida Kahlo, The Broken Column, 1944
Frida Kahlo, The Broken Column, 1944

September 17, 1925

As a teenaged Frida Kahlo rides through Mexico City, her bus is hit by a train. In the collision, an iron handrail breaks off and pierces through her body, from abdomen to vagina. The sheer force of the impact peels her clothes from her body, and in a moment that’s straight out of dreamy Magical Realism, her nude body is completely covered in gold dust that’s being transported by a house painter.

Frida spends a month in the hospital, recuperating from injuries including three fractures to her spine, three more to her pelvis, fractures to her collarbone and ribs, eleven fractures in her right leg, a crushed and dislocated right foot, and a disjointed left shoulder. During that month, it’s touch-and-go whether she’ll survive.

These injuries affect her for her entire life, as she undergoes several operations and is often sickly and confined to bed. The time in bed fuels her artwork, and gives her time to paint.

Physical suffering becomes a theme running through much of her work, and also gives her a rallying point, like when she attends her own opening while laying in her four poster bed. (Because her doctor has confined her to bed rest at the time, she dramatically arranges to have her bed – with her in it – delivered to the gallery).

Unfortunately, these injuries render her unable to have children, which is one of her saddest regrets.

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