Frida Kahlo de Rivera


Frida Kahlo de Rivera : biography

06 July 1907 – 13 July 1954

Diego and Frieda’s wedding took place in August of 1929. they said that it looked like a carnival – Frieda dressed as an Indian, Diego put on gringo’s costume, and then the newlywed’s lover arrived on the modest wedding, and drunken Rivera started to shoot… Frieda’s parents called this marriage “a union of a dove and an elephant”. Frieda was the first woman who was allowed to follow Rivera everywhere, to be in the centre of attention of the press, politician scandals and long-term journeys. Their first journey was a travelling to Cuernavaca, where Diego painted and restored Hernan Cortes’ palace. It was Mexica, unknown to Frieda: another world, where sin was natural, and death had the same price as life. The next paintings of the artist found a base there, imbibing motives of beauty and death, passion and fear, humour and blood, inherent in the ancient Indian culture. But Frieda didn’t like San Francisco, New York and Detroit: unlike her husband, she noticed superficialism of American thinking and way of life, snobbery, greed and artificiality of “civilized world”.

During the first years of marriage Frieda painted very little. She enjoyed her happiness, like an award for all pain and injuries. In 1931 Diego started to build a house in San-Angel and bought out Frieda’s father’s house to improve finances of a growing poor family. A year later Rivera started to paint industrial spaces of a great Henry Ford, and Frieda decided to give birth to a child for the second time, but she lost a baby again. She painted her first masterpiece “Henry Ford’s hospital” in Henry Ford’s clinic. At the same year she created a picture “A self-portrait on the border of Mexico and USA, where the artist not only opposed Mexican sun and leaves to American skyscrapers and pipes, but also told the world about a break in her life. Happiness of married life vanished forever because of Diego’s too passionate character. She started to take a fancy to models and find lovers, and in 1934 he was unfaithful to Frieda with her younger sister Christina. Frieda couldn’t forgive it and started to revenge in his own coin.

Diego allowed liberty only for himself and turned out to be a mad jealous man. But scandals couldn’t change anything – Frieda demonstratively flirted with men and women. Her lovers were an American photographer Nicholas Murray, a sculptor Isamu Noguchi and many others. There were a lot of speculations about Frieda’s affair with Leon Trotsky. “A tribune of Russian revolution” found a shelter in Mexico owing to Diego Rivera. When in 1937 he and his wife arrived in Tampico, Diego was ill, and Frieda met them and invited ti their house. On one of the versions, Trotsky fell in love with her like a young boy. It isn’t surprising, because Frieda was very bright and charismatic woman. But the artist got tired of a passionate “old man”, as she called him during one of the conversations with friends, and broke the starting affair. Another version said that “the tribune of revolution” easily seduces “a passionate Trotskyite”, but this connection was broken by his wife. But these were only speculations – no evidence remained.

In 1939 Diego, tired of such a life with mutual unfaithfulness and reproaches, asked for a divorce under a very vulgar pretext of his wife’s frigidity. Frieda agreed. A year after he asked Frieda to live together again, and she agreed, but made conditions, that they should be financially independent from each other and shouldn’t have intimate relationships. In December of 1940 they married for the second time, but followed all conditions steadily – it was an alliance of “free love” of two practically stranger people. Diego worked in a studio in his house in San-Angel. Frieda lived mainly in her parents’ house, painted, struggled with loneliness and intensified illnesses.

During these years she painted her best pictures: in 1943 “Self-portrait with Diego in mind” and “Roots”, in 1944 “A broken column”, in 1945 “hopelessness”, and in 1946 “A little fallow deer”. Her pictures were considered to be surrealistic even during her life, though Frieda didn’t like this style of painting and thought it was assumed and farfetched. As an artist Frieda Kahlo was a real Indian – sensual and rough, sinful and cheerful, free in pleasure and suffering. Diego wanted to see her like this, and he loved this Frieda in her painting. But it was only the “second self” of the artist. In real life Frieda didn’t manage to realize Rivera’s ideal. Probably, because of inherited vulnerability and poetical character, or probably, because of feeling of her woman’s inferiority, she concealed everything that concerned her worries – mental and physical. Only in the diary Frieda wrote that Diego was her husband, friend, father, child and god. Her diary, like her paintings, was a real confession, telling about loneliness and beauty of this loneliness.

The last ten years of her life she had to take drugs, which freed her from intolerable physical pain. In 1951 he had gangrene, and doctors amputated her toes on the left leg. It was one of several operation, which Frieda Kahlo had during all her life. After this operation she didn’t leave a bed. In 1953 the Institute of Fine Arts arranged an exhibition of Frieda’s paintings. She celebrated it very noisily, lying in bed in the centre of a gallery in a national dress with tequila.

Frieda Kahlo died on the 13th of July in 1954 in Coyocan because of pneumonia. Before a cremation her body was wrapped up in a communistic flag, and all her adornments from simple trinkets to expensive jewelry were put in the coffin. The house, where the artist lived and died, became a museum.

People considered Frieda Kahlo’s art differently. Some people see a perfect talent, enrapturing with its originality and depth, and some people don’t see anything except shamelessness, cruelty and rage. But the artist is considered to be one of the idols of twentieth century. Her recollections are filmed in Hollywood, on their base ballets are made, and Frieda’s diary had a lot of republications and turned into a cult book for her admirers.