The Broken Column by Frida Kahlo

WHO WAs frida kahlo?

Frida Kahlo was known for painting self-portraits and exploring Mexican folk culture and Aztec mythology; her artworks explored reality and fantasy.

in context

In The Broken Column, Frida Kahlo presents herself in all her rawness – we see tears, pins, and pain. This is just one example of many that Kahlo created.

historical overview

When Kahlo was 18 years old, a bus collided with a car and ran into her. She endured and suffered a metal handrail impaled through her pelvic hip area.


Although she always enjoyed art, from a young age, she was mostly self-taught but learned from many. Kahlo’s father was a photographer, and this is where she learned artistic skills like observation.

Was kahlo a surrealist?

Frida Kahlo has been quoted as saying, “They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality”.

subject matter

In The Broken Column, Kahlo faces the viewers, her gaze seemingly unbroken as she looks ahead. The column is placed to represent her spine. If we look closer, the column is cracked and seemingly starting to fall apart.

color and light

The colors in The Broken Column painting are mostly greens, blues, whites, and the lighter brown of Kahlo’s skin complexion – all-natural and subdued colors. 

perspective and line

The horizontal lines from the cracked earth behind Kahlo are echoed in the horizontal lines from her metal corset around her upper torso.


There have been numerous suggested symbolic references in The Broken Column, namely the white covering around Kahlo’s torso and the nails in her skin, which point to religious symbols.