The Broken Column was painted shortly after Frida had undergone surgery on her spinal column. The operation left her bedridden and “enclosed” in a metallic corset, which helped to alleviate the intense, and constant pain she was in.
In the painting she is depicted standing in the middle of a completely arid, cracked landscape. Her torso is encased in metal belts lined with fabric that provide pressure and support for her back. They help to prevent her body from collapsing, a possibility which is announced by the image running down the middle of her torso. There a completely fractured Ionic column on the point of collapse has replaced her spinal column. Frida’s head rests on the capital. Although her face is bathed in tears, it doesn’t reflect a sign of pain. The attitude she presents is the one she always showed to life itself: strong and defiant to the viewer. The nails piercing her body are a symbol of the constant pain she faced. The largest ones, along the column, mark the damage caused by the accident in 1925, while those adhering to her left breast refer rather to an emotional pain, to her feeling of solitude. When asked once why she so often portrayed herself in her works, Frida replied that it was because she was always alone and because she herself was what she knew best.