FRAME|WORK: El Aborto (Frida and the Miscarriage) by Frida Kahlo

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature a powerful lithograph created by the formidable Frida Kahlo. This work is currently not on view, so we have provided this exclusive virtual viewing!


Frida Kahlo (Mexican, 1907–1954). El Aborto (Frida and the Miscarriage), 1932. Lithograph. Museum purchase, Dr. R. Earl Robinson Estate and Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts Endowment Fund. 1996.38

It is impossible to separate the life and work of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo–her art is her biography. After surviving a crippling traffic accident when she was a teenager, Kahlo turned her attention from a medical career to painting. She spent the rest of her life expressing her inner emotions on canvas.

Drawing on personal experiences, her works are often shocking in their stark portrayal of pain and the harsh lives of women. Kahlo painted her anger and hurt over her stormy marriage with the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, her miscarriages and the physical traumas she underwent as a result of the accident. Fifty-five of her 143 paintings are self-portraits that incorporate personal symbolism, complete with graphic anatomical references.

El Aborto of 1932 is the only significant print she ever made. It was created in Detroit, where she used a lithography workshop in an arts and crafts guild to help her combat depression after she suffered the first of three miscarriages. One of only six known impressions, this work is quintessential Kahlo, a self-portrait dealing directly with a difficult aspect of her life.