During her lifetime, Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) lived in the shadow of her far more famous husband, Diego Rivera, but with a big push from American popular culture beginning in the 1990s, she’s taken over the spotlight, emerging in the 21st century as the best-known and most-recognizable Mexican artist in the world — despite being famous for challenging, ignoring and disrupting cultural norms in Mexico.
In response to Rivera’s many infidelities, she had affairs with both men and women. An ardent Communist, she devoted her life to social protest, from leading labor marches to protesting the United States’ interventions in Latin America. A proto-feminist, she used her art to explore her lifelong struggles with excruciating pain caused by a streetcar accident when she was 18.
The Mexican Revolution inspired her to wear native Mexican costumes, but even when it became unfashionable, she continued to use the long, flowing dresses to hide a leg shriveled by polio. Her father was a German-Jewish immigrant; her mother half-Indian and a devout Catholic.