The Tempestuous Relationship Between Frida Kahlo And Diego Rivera | KCUR
Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera painted each other for (Credit: Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, DF . ( ) (often referred to as 'Diego on My Mind'), was begun in Frida Kahlo's Passionate Hand-Written Love Letters to Diego Rivera – Brain . The Two Fridas: the theme of the double and the relationship with Diego Rivera. Sealed with a kiss: Kahlo's husband Diego Rivera at work in his studio in San The couple had a rocky relationship and were married twice.
The leader of the group was Alejandro Gomez Arias, a law student, journalist and later Frida's first lover. The group would often play pranks on unsuspecting students and teachers. For one of the more serious pranks, Frida was expelled but quickly managed to get the suspension revoked before her family learned of the incident.
During this same period, the "Mexican Renaissance" movement began. The government sponsored local artists to paint murals in churches, schools, libraries, and public buildings. It was at the Preparatioria school that Frida first learned of Diego Rivera, who was painting his mural "Creation" at the school's Simon Bolivar auditorium.
Although students were forbidden to enter the auditorium while "El Maestro" was working, Frida would hide in the back and watch him for hours. She became fascinated by the "larger than life" man whom she nicknamed "Panzon" fat belly. One day she shocked a friend by telling her that she one day wanted to have a child by Diego Rivera. In September ofFrida was in her senior year and looking forward to graduation and already making plans to attend medical school.
But, September 17, would become the day in which Frida's destiny was changed forever.
Frida Kahlo, Biography, Bio, Diego Rivera
On that day, Frida and her boyfriend, Alejandro, got onto the bus to head home from school. Shortly afterwards, the bus was stuck broadside by a trolley car.
Frida sustained multiple injuries; a broken pelvic bone, spinal column, and other severe injuries, leading doctors to doubt whether she would survive. She spent the next several months in bed recovering from the accident. Little did she know at the time that she would endure some 30 operations throughout her lifetime in an attempt to correct the damage sustained in that accident.
Doctor's told Frida that she would probably never be able to carry a child to full term. This accident changed the course of her life forever. It was during her months of convalescence that Frida began to take painting seriously. Her only previous artistic tuition had been a few drawing lessons from the commercial printmaker Fernando Fernandez, for whom Frida worked part-time as a paid apprentice. Frida's father, an amateur artist, gave Frida his paints and brushes and her mother had a carpenter constructed an easel that sat on her bed.
A large mirror was mounted on the underside of the bed canopy so Frida could see herself. She began by painting portraits of herself, friends and still life. Throughout Frida's short life, she created paintings, most of which were self-portraits and still life.
Frida feared that after her death she would be forgotten and self-portraits were her way of immortalizing herself. After the bus accident, Frida's relationship with Alejandro began to crumble. There were fewer and fewer visits. In late December ofFrida started to regain the use of her legs. Her first journey was to Mexico City to visit Alejandro.
She arrived at his home and knocked on the door but he never came out to meet her. InFrida painted her first self-portrait: It was painted as a gift for her boyfriend, Alejandro, who had left her suspecting her of infidelities. Alejandro admired Italian Renaissance art and would often give Frida reproductions of Old Masters paintings. Frida started the self-portrait in March of and finished it in September. Prior to sending the painting to Alejandro she wrote him a note of apology: Forgive me for sending it without a frame.
I implore you to put it in a low place where you can see it as if you were looking at me. By then Alejandro had also grown tired of Frida and wanted to escape from her "possessive" grip. While he was away, Frida wrote to him often to express her feelings and love for him. Alejandro was supposed to return in July but July came and went and Alejandro was still in Europe.
The Tempestuous Relationship Between Frida Kahlo And Diego Rivera
When he finally returned in November there was a brief reconciliation with Frida but soon their relationship diminished and they drifted apart. By the end ofFrida's health had recovered to the extent that she was once more living a largely "normal" life. Although her school friends had already graduated and moved on to the university, she resumed contact with them and joined the Young Communist League. At the start ofa friend from her school days introduced her to a group of young people centered around the Cuban Communist Julio Antonio Mella, who was currently in exile in Mexico.
One of the group members was the photographer and silent film star Tina Modotti, the lover of Mella and an acquaintance of Diego Rivera. It was at a party hosted by Modotti that Frida finally met Diego Rivera face-to-face for the first time. Frida described their first encounter as distant until Diego pulled his pistol and shot the phonograph. It was then she said: Frida left the party that night without ever speaking to Diego.
Soon after, Frida showed Diego some of her paintings and asked him what he thought of her own efforts and whether he considered her talented. Diego was not only impressed by her paintings but with Frida herself and began courting her It was during their courtship that Diego suggested Kahlo begin wearing traditional Mexican clothing, which consisted of long, colorful dresses and exotic jewelry.
She appears in a panel he called "Frida Kahlo Distributes the Weapons". Dressed in a black skirt and red shirt, and wearing a red star on her breast, she is shown as a member of the Mexican Communist Party, which she in fact joined in Rivera continued to be a frequent visitor at the "Blue House". She wore a long skirt and a blouse borrowed from her Indian maid and draped herself in a red reboso shawl. Diego wore a plain gray suit, his Stetson hat and a Colt revolver at his side.
Diego was 42 years old, 6' 1" and pounds; Frida was 22, 5'3" and just 98 pounds. Frida's mother did not approve of the union and did not attend the wedding ceremony.
She said that Diego was too old, too fat and worse yet he was a Communist and an atheist. She described the marriage as being: He understood that Diego had the financial means to provide for his daughter's medical needs. On one of Diego's frequent visits to the Kahlo home, Frida's father took Diego aside and said, "My daughter is sick and always will be. Frida's father was the only one to attend the wedding ceremony. Some of Frida's friends were shocked by her choice while others saw it as a way to advance her own career as an artist.
The local newspaper, La Prensa, described the wedding as " modest, without ostentation, without pompous and unpretentious". The article started by identifying Frida as ".
After the wedding Frida moved out of the Blue House to live with Diego in the center of the city. At the wedding reception that followed, Diego proceeded to get obnoxiously drunk. In a drunken rage he broke another mans little finger, broke several items on the table and brandished his pistol. Frida was furious at his behavior. They argued and Frida left in tears.
She did not move in with Diego until several days later. Frida soon became pregnant but had to undergo an abortion because the fetus was incorrectly positioned due to her fractured pelvis.
Frida disparately wanted a child but Diego did not want children partly because his painting commissions obligated them to travel a great deal. Shortly after their marriage, Diego was expelled from the Communist Party after accepting another commission from the Mexican government to paint a series of murals at the Cortes Palace in Cuernavaca, South of Mexico City.
As a result of Diego's expulsion, Frida, demonstrating her loyalty to him, also left the Communist Party. Although they distanced themselves from the Party, they did not abandon the goals of Communism and continued to support the Party from the sidelines During this period, the North Americans were very interested in the cultural development of the so-called "Mexican Renaissance" movement in Mexico.
The United States represented a powerful magnet for Mexican artists to profit from its more strongly developed art market. Rivera was determined to capitalize on the opportunity and accepted a commission to paint murals for the San Francisco Stock Exchange and the California School of Fine Arts.
On November 10th,the newly-wed couple left Mexico for a three-year sojourn in the United States. They moved into a large studio at Montgomery Street that belonged to Ralph Stackpole, San Francisco's leading artist in the s and s.
Although they arrived at the beginning of the "Great Depression", there always seemed to be money for murals and lavish welcoming parties.
San Francisco's elite society idolized Diego but scrutinized Frida as just an object of curiosity. Other than her trips to China Town where she fell in love with the Chinese children, Frida was unimpressed with San Francisco. She avoided the people whom she described as "boring" and " In a letter to her friend, Isabel Campos, Frida wrote: Up to this point, Frida had painted only to amuse herself and never considered herself to be an artist.
She would often accompany Diego to his worksite and paint small paintings on pieces of tin or board. Inwhile in San Francisco, Frida painted "Frieda and Diego Rivera"a folkloric style double-portrait that may have been based on a wedding photograph. A San Francisco newspaper article described the work as being " valuable only because it was painted by the wife of Diego Rivera".
The couple remained in San Francisco while Diego worked on the commissioned murals. Diego selected the beautiful tennis star Helen Moody as his model for one of the panels in the Pacific Stock Exchange mural "Allegory of California". As was his usual practice, he began an affair with the tennis beauty. In retaliation, Frida began a sexual affair with Christina Hastings, the wife of one of Diego's assistances.
During this time, the pain and deformity in Frida's right leg worsened and she was hospitalized. There she met Dr. Leo Eloesser, a well-known surgeon.
He diagnosed her physical problems as being stress related and recommended bed rest and a healthy diet. Dr Eloesser became Frida's friend and most trusted medical advisor for the rest of her life. Frida painted his portrait as an expression of her gratitude for his friendship and medical advice. In a letter to her friend Isabel Campos, Frida wrote: The Rivera's planed to return together to Mexico on June 8th after Diego finished the murals. Frida, however, bored with "Gringolandia", left in May.
Diego left on June 8th as scheduled. While back in Mexico, Frida met the Hungarian born photographer Nickolas Muray who was vacationing in Mexico and visiting friends. Muray was a well known and socially prominent fashion photographer from New York. Upon their arrival in New York, the couple was greeted by New York's rich and famous but the spotlight again was on Diego.
Frida was simply referred to as "the young Mexican girl on the arm of Diego Rivera" and described as "shy" and " She continued to be referred to only as "Mrs.
Diego's exhibit consisted of works and 8 mural panels. The show was an over whelming success While in Detroit, they stayed in a one-bedroom furnished apartment in the Wardell, a large residential hotel. The hotel was conveniently located at 15 Kirby East and Woodward Avenue, across the street from the Detroit Institute of Arts where Diego would be working. Having lived in cosmopolitan New York, Frida was not impressed with Detroit Frida became pregnant once again but after only three and a half months her second pregnancy ended in miscarriage at the Henry Ford Hospital.
Diego never wanted children and Frida knew it. She took quinine in an attempt to abort, but it did not happen right away. On July 4th, Frida was hospitalized with severe hemorrhaging and later suffered a miscarriage. She spent the next 13 days recovering in the hospital. Her painting "Henry Ford Hospital" documents every aspect of the tragic event. In early September ofFrida received word that her mother was gravely ill. She and her friend Lucienne Bloch returned to Mexico.
Despite Frida's attempts to bond with her mother, they always remained distant. She referred to her mother as "El Jefe" The Boss. Frida recalled that "I have my father's eyes and my mother's body". Frida was her father's favorite daughter. Diego worked long hours in an effort to complete the Detroit murals on schedule he had little time for Frida. To combat boredom, Frida began to paint. One day while painting in her hotel room, a local newspaper reporter came to Frida's room and asked if she could interview her for a featured column about "visiting homes of interesting people".
Of course in the interview Frida was her own witty self and played the role of the innocent "adoring wife". When the article was published the heading read: While Diego painted the mural, Frida began work on her painting "My Dress Hangs There" a painting that expressed her discontentment with the United States, its social decay and its fundamental human values.
In this painting, Frida expresses her dim view of the United States which is just the opposite view of Diego's who was expressing his approval of the industrial progress in his own mural.
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: Portrait of a complex marriage
Frida was homesick and wanted to return to Mexico but Diego insisted that it was for the best if they stayed in the United States. In early May, Rockefeller confronted Rivera about the use of Lenin's portrait in the mural. Rockefeller pleaded with Rivera to paint over the portrait but Rivera refused, reminding Rockefeller that he had reviewed the preliminary sketches and approved them. As a compromise, Rivera offered to include a bust of Abraham Lincoln On May 9th,Rivera's Rockefeller Center commission was abruptly terminated and the unfinished mural was destroyed.
After its completion in December, Diego was out of work. Despite all the controversy over his New York mural, Diego liked America and wanted to stay but Frida could think of nothing else but returning to her beloved Mexico. Finally, when Diego realized they were broke, he conceded and agreed to return to Mexico. Close friends of the Rivera's took up a collection to pay for their passage back to Mexico.
Upon their return they move into a new double studio-house in San Angel designed and built for them by Juan O'Gorman. The house consisted of two separate structures and each side consisted of a studio and living quarters The two structures were joined on the top level by a foot bridge.
Frida devoted most of her time to decorating her new abode although she did find time to finish the painting she started in New York: In earlyafter being pregnant for 3 months, Frida's third pregnancy and health was again in trouble. She underwent an appendectomy, an abortion, and an operation on her foot in which three toes were removed.
At the time Frida was having an affair with the Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi so it's possible that the aborted child was his. Shortly afterwards Frida learned that Diego was having an affair with her younger sister Christina. Although Cristina was married, her husband had abandoned her and their two children. Cristina had become Diego's favorite models and she began appearing in his murals. Frida suspected Diego was having yet another affair but never ever considered the fact that "the other woman" might be her own sister.
Frida was devastated by the discovery and the couple separated. She felt betrayed by the two people she loved most of all Frida left the house in San Angel for several months and took her own apartment at Avenida Insurgentes in central Mexico City. Distraught over the affair with Christina and her separation from Diego, Frida painted nothing during that year. The following year she painted "A Few Small Nips" in which she projects her emotional pain onto another woman's misfortune.
She occupied her time away from Diego with alcohol, parties and frequenting the cantinas in Mexico City and the local pulquerias. By the end of Frida returned to the house in San Angel and she and Diego reconciled. Although reconciled, they lead separate lives. Frida kept to herself on one side of the duplex structure and Diego on the other. Although the two separate quarters were connected on the top level by a foot bridge, the door leading to Frida's side could be, and alsays was, locked from the inside.
Despite all of the physical and emotional pain in Frida's life, she was an outgoing person who used many 4 letter words in her conversations.
She loved to smoke, drink tequila and sing off color songs to guests at the many parties she hosted. She loved telling dirty jokes just to shock her guests. People were taken by her beauty and everywhere she went, people stopped in their tracks to stare at her. Men wanted her and women wanted to be her. Beautiful, intelligent, and immensely talented, Kahlo was considered one of the most desirable women of her day.
During her separation from Diego, Frida engaged in several affairs with both men and women. Diego overlooked her relationships with other women but was infuriated by her affairs with other men Frida was careful to keep those escapades a secret. Inthe Spanish Civil War erupted. Frida and Diego worked together on behalf of the Republicans, raising money for Mexicans fighting against Franco's forces.
In January ofLeon Trotsky and his wife, Natalia Sedova, arrived in Mexico, where Leon had been granted political asylum, largely through Diego's intervention. Shortly after their arrival, Frida and Trotsky became close and engaged in a secret relationship.
Trotsky's political status and Diego's admiration for him made him a prime target for an affair that would give Diego a few more "nips" for his affair with Cristina. Frida and Trotsky would converse only in English, a language which was still foreign to his wife Natalia.
They would pass love notes to each other hidden in books that they would loan each other. Sexual encounters between the two followed. Their affair some how went unnoticed by Diego but Natalia knew her womanizing husband and didn't have to understand English to notice Frida's not so subtle advances towards her husband. But Frida soon grew tired of "the old man" as she called him, and the affair ended in July.
After their relationship ended, Frida painted a self-portrait and gave it to Trotsky who hung it on the wall in his study. When the Trotsky's moved from the Blue House in April ofTrotsky, at the request of his wife, left the painting behind.
During Frida again began to paint and it was during this period that she produced some of her best work. Although she considered this exhibit to be " small and in a rotten place", her goal was to become financially independent of Diego through the sale of her paintings.
In a letter to her friend Lucienne Bloch she wrote: He later wrote to Frida to ask her if she would be interested in an exhibit of her works in his gallery in Manhattan. View image of Credit: Alamy When it comes to telling the story of the complex relationship between Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, historians invariably reach for the same set of biographical soundbites: Everything you need to know is there in the way the two artists portrayed each other in their works.
With its criss-crossing, out-of-sync stares and slowly unclasping hands, the canvas vibrates with subtle tensions. The relationship it depicts is anything but straightforward or easily captioned. What can we gather from the cockeyed, quizzical tilt of her own gaze, fixed as it is in dead space somewhere to our left, refusing either to run in parallel with his or engage ours? How do we read the curious clash of sartorial styles — his European suit and her traditional Mexican dress?
Though Kahlo painted the work, why is it that we find Diego clutching the palette and brushes, as she grips a knot at her stomach with one hand and, with the other, begins to let go? A marriage of inconvenience The portrait was undertaken when Kahlo accompanied Diego on a lengthy sojourn to San Francisco, where he had been commissioned to create murals for the San Francisco Stock Exchange and the California School of Fine Art.
The image captures Kahlo, who had adopted traditional Mexican dress to impress the champion of the Mexican worker, at a key moment in her development. As a foreshadow, the gesture rhymes with the wandering eyes of the two subjects, who will each both go on to have a string of extramarital affairs. At the centre of the impact is a miniature bust of Diego, emblazoned on her forehead like an elaborate third eye — a recurring motif in folk art symbolising inner vision.