Kahlo often said her life consisted of three accidents: the bus accident in her youth, meeting Diego Rivera and losing a child.

Having just read Judy Chicago’s remarkable new book on Frida Kahlo’s paintings, I dove into Frida’s letters (compiled by Martha Zamora) – Cartas Appasionadas. How could one not weep for most of one’s life?  “The only good thing is that I’m starting to get used to suffering.” This in a letter at eighteen – three months after the bus accident, the monstrous wounds and breaks, and still in the hospital, where she would return again and again.  We think we know pain – and pain creeps into unique forms we cannot imagine….she knew pain as a foreboding shroud she inhabited as a young girl, filled and concealed for the rest of her life to express  only in her letters briefly, and in the  metaphors of  painting.

Frida had the gifts of a poet:  this quote from a letter to Alejandro Gomez Arias – “…I was a girl walking in a world of colors, of clear and tangible shapes. Everything was mysterious and something was hiding: guessing its nature was a game for me. If you knew how terrible it is to attain knowledge all of a sudden – like lightning elucidating the earth! Now I live on a painful planet, transparent as ice. It’s as if I learned everything at the same time in a matter of seconds. … I grew old in an instant and now everything is dull and flat.  I know there is nothing behind; if there is something I would see it.”

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