Kahlo experienced tremendous physical and psychological torment throughout her life. When she was fifteen, she was involved in a near fatal streetcar accident which left her with a crushed pelvis, fractured spine and broken foot. This accident was the beginning of a lifelong battle of operations, infection, amputation, and, eventually, death. It was also the beginning of a remarkable series of paintings about pain, confinement and femininity. Almost all of Kahlo's paintings are self-portraits, an autobiography in paint. 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."
Diego Rivera, Kahlo's husband, gave her house in Coyoacan and its contents to the state to be used as the Frida Kahlo Museum after her death in 1954.