Frida Kahlo was mainly self-taught as a painter. She was greatly influenced by Rivera as well as by Mexican folk art. She specialized almost exclusively in self-portraits ranging from simple likenesses to portraying herself in dramatic settings. Every picture contained a strong autobiographical element, whether it was simply the artist dressed in traditional Mexican dress or still-lives of fruit which she found in the surroundings of her beloved abode. Her preoccupation with death (a favorite theme amongst the Mexican people) was evident in many of her most famous works, particularly the disturbing 'Two Fridas' (1934). Kahlo said that many of her contemporaries "thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn't. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality."
Her paintings were widely shown in Mexico and in 1939 she had successful exhibitions in New York and Paris, but during her lifetime her husband's career overshadowed her own. After her death in 1954, however, she became a feminist icon for her struggle against illness and her left-wing political activities.
"In the whole history of art, Frida is the only example of a painter virtually tearing her breast and heart open in order to express the feelings in them and tell the biological truth." Diego Rivera