Frida Kahlo

Which famous artist's portrait appears on the 500 Mexican peso bill?

And the answer: Frida Kahlo.    

Photo credit: public domain.

From 2010 to 2018, Frida Kahlo's portrait appeared on the 500 Mexican peso bill, with the reverse side featuring her two-time husband and fellow artist, Diego Rivera. In 2018, their portraits were replaced with that of 19th century Mexican President Benito Juarez.

Throughout her life, Kahlo painted 150 works— most of which were self portraits depicting her struggles. When Kahlo was just 6 years old, she suffered from Poliomyelitis, a condition which caused one of her legs to be shorter and thinner. Although Kahlo survived, the artist was left with lifelong health conditions that only worsened over time. In 1925, when Kahlo was 18 years old, Kahlo suffered near-fatal injuries when the bus she rode was struck by a tram. During her several month recovery period, Kahlo began to paint self-portraits on an easel by her bed. According to the artist:

"I paint myself because I'm usually alone and I'm the object I know best."

However, other forces were at work in the young artist's life. The Mexican Revolution began to gain steam as Kahlo grew up, a fact which ultimately led her to be considered as a Daughter of the Revolution. Her paintings increasingly reflected revolutionary ideals in combination with the popular Mexican aesthetics of the time.

In 1927, Kahlo joined the Mexican Communist Party. There, within her circles, she met Diego Rivera, who she would go on to marry just two years later. Yet a crushing blow came for the couple, when Kahlo suffered three miscarriages within the span of several years. The realization that she could not have children deeply affected Kahlo, and became a prominent theme in her paintings.

Kahlo's work continued to gain recognition, eventually growing to the extent of a showcase at the Louvre. Although founders of the popular Surrealist movement claimed Kahlo as one of their own, the artist was quick to dismiss the idea, stating that she didn't paint her dreams— she painted her own life.

Learn more about legendary artist Frida Kahlo below.

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