90 year ago, on September 17, 1925, at the age of 18, Frida Kahlo was riding in a bus that collided with a trolley car. As a result of the accident she suffered several injuries: a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone ribs and 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.
The accident left her in a great deal of pain, and she spent three months recovering in a full body cast. Although she recovered from her injuries and eventually was able to walk again, she was in extreme pain for the rest of her life. As a result of the accident during the following thirty years, she had as many as 35 surgeries, mainly on her back, her right leg and her right foot.
The local newspaper reported the accident and described Frida as “the painter, sculptor and writer Señorita Galo.”
Much later, Frida found a votive painting that described a scene very similar to her accident. She added: “Coyoacan” on the bus, and painted her characteristic uni-brow on the face of the victim bleeding on the street.
At the bottom of the votive painting she wrote: "Mr. and Mrs. Guillermo Kahlo and Matilde C. de Kahlo give thanks to Our Lady of Sorrows for saving their daughter Frida from the accident which took place in 1925 on the corner of Cuahutemozin and Calzada de Tlalpah."
Four weeks after her accident, Frida wrote a letter to Alejandro Gomez Arias: "...when you come, please bring some chocolate and a Balero, the same we had on the day (of the accident) which I lost on the bus. Your friend, who looks like a line on the landscape. Friducha.”
"Because of the tiny little umbrella I was very sad. Life begins tomorrow... "
Many years later, Frida talked about her accident:
"I remember it was the 17th September 1925 ... Shortly after we (Frida and Alejandro) had entered the bus, the collision happened.
First we were in another bus, but I had lost a little umbrella, and we got out to look for it, that´s why we got on that bus, which mutilated me.
The accident happened ... My first thought was for a pretty colorful Balero, which I had bought that day. I wanted to look for it in the belief that all of this would not have any consequences. "
Kunstmuseum Gehrke-Remund Exhibition Guide 2008-2014
Kahlo, F. (2007). Now that you're leaving me, I love you more than ever. Munich: SchirmerGraf.
#70: Frida Kahlo, Votive painting, after 1926, Oil on metal, 19,1 x 24,1 cm;
Licensed replica © Banco de México Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2008