The Broken Column is a self-portrait executed in 1944 painted in a surrealist style by the artist Frida Kahlo, who was born in Mexico in 1906. It is in private ownership. It is a small work that measures 16.9 inches by 13 inches, and is an oil painting on canvas.
Kahlo’s best-known works are possibly her self-portraits, which are very striking and portray a stark realism. The Broken Column is just one of her paintings that was inspired by a horrific accident the artist was involved in when she was eighteen.
Kahlo was traveling on a bus that collided with a tram. A metal railing on the bus was driven upwards through the artist’s leg and abdomen, causing multiple fractures.
The artist is standing in a surreal landscape. She is almost naked. Tears fall from her eyes. A broken, tapering, stone column divides the body from the lower abdomen to the chin. A number of nails pierce the visible parts of her body.
Kahlo was 18 years old when she was involved in a horrific traffic accident, in which an iron rod pierced her abdomen, right foot was crushed, and two vertebrae were fractured, as well as a number of other bones, including eleven fractures in her right leg. As she recovered in a full body cast, her mother brought her a small lap easel, and, with a mirror over her bed, began painting self-portraits. This self-portrait embodies many elements that were in Kahlo’s artwork, including the themes of isolation, a broken body, and intense suffering and pain. This painting also embodies another one of Kahlo’s themes, that of two bodies, one of which she is a complete and full bodied woman, and another, reflecting broken insides.