Mexican culture and Amerindian cultural tradition figure prominently in her work, which sometimes has been characterized as Naïve art or folk art. Her work also has been described as "surrealist", and in 1938 one surrealist described Kahlo as a "ribbon around a bomb".
Kahlo had a stormy but passionate marriage with the prominent Mexican artist Diego Rivera. She suffered lifelong health problems, many of which stemmed from a traffic accident in her teenage years. These issues are reflected in her works, more than half of which are self-portraits of one sort or another. Kahlo suggested, "I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best." She also stated, "I was born a bitch. I was born a painter."