Frida Kahlo: How a Devastating Bus Accident Changed Her Life and Inspired Her Art

When Frida Kahlo was 18, she seemed poised to claim the life she had imagined. Daughter of a German artist father and a Mexican mother, Kahlo wanted to be a doctor since childhood. She was pursuing that dream through her studies at the National Preparatory School in Mexico City, about an hour’s drive from her hometown of Coyoacan. Although she was clearly a talented artist, art remained on the periphery of her life.

On September 17, 1925, everything changed. After a day of classes, Kahlo and her friend Alejandro Gomez Arias boarded a bus headed for Coyoacan. Minutes after they sat down on a wooden bench, the bus turned a corner and slammed into a speeding electric tram. “The tram smashed the bus into the corner,” Kahlo told author Raquel Tibol in Frida Kahlo: an open life. “It was a strange crash, not violent but annoying and slow, and it hurt everyone, me much more seriously.”

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