The Broken Column (1944)
About the author
Frida Kahlo de Rivera (July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954) was a Mexican painter who is best known for her self-portraits. She suffered lifelong health problems, many caused by a traffic accident she survived as a teenager. Recovering from her injuries isolated her from other people, and this isolation influenced her works, many of which are self-portraits of one sort or another. Kahlo suggested, "I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best." Kahlo contracted polio at age six, which left her right leg thinner than the left; she disguised this later in life by wearing long, colorful skirts. On September 17, 1925, Kahlo was riding in a bus that collided with a trolley car. She suffered serious injuries as a result of the accident, including a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone, broken ribs, a broken pelvis, eleven fractures in her right leg, a crushed and dislocated right foot, and a dislocated shoulder. Also, an iron handrail pierced her abdomen and her uterus, compromising her reproductive capacity. About the painting
This self-portrait is in sharp contrast to Frida's other self-portraits in that she is all alone… no monkeys, no cats, no parrots, and no background of protective leaves and plants. Instead, Frida stands all alone crying on a vast baron plain beneath a stormy sky. Perhaps it's her way of expressing that she must deal with her physical and emotional pain on her own. In 1944 when Frida painted this self-portrait, her health had deteriorated to the point where she had to wear a steel corset for five months. She described the experience as a "punishment". The straps of the corset seem to be all that is holding the artist's broken body together and upright. An Ionic column, broken in several places, symbolizes her damaged spine. The yawning cleft in her body is repeated in the furrows of the bleak fissured landscape. An even more powerful symbol of her pain are the...
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