Revolutionary Frida Kahlo’s Tragic Love And Art In Mexico

A Story Of Love, Art, Sex, Murder, Revolution, And Tragedy In Mexico City

Posing next to a giant maguey, like in Frida’s Vogue fashion shoot

I’m standing in the National Palace, posing next to a giant maguey, like Frida did in her 1937 Vogue magazine photo shoot.⁣

Revolutionary Frida posed in an indigenous dress

I’ve got the giant maguey by my side, but Frida posed in an indigenous dress, and that’s what made it a fashion shoot.

Frida got along much better with her Hungarian father than with her indigenous mother. But Frida was alway proud of her indigenous past.

They were the downtrodden class, and that’s the side Frida always took.

Diego Rivera’s mural of Mexican history in Mexico’s National Palace

You come to the National Palace to see Diego Rivera’s version of Mexican history, painted throughout the terraces of one of the courtyards.

Diego Rivera’s version of Mexican history ends with a communist revolution.

Diego Rivera’s history of Mexico ends in revolution

His pictorial history was to educate the illiterate masses.

Can you spot Frida Kahlo? She’s in the panel all the way to the left, just above the woman with the red blouse.

La Casa Azul, where Frida lived most of her life, is now the Frida Kahlo museum

Frida grew up in La Casa Azul, and she stayed there most of the rest of her life.

It’s now the Frida Kahlo museum, and a must-visit.

A wheelchair in front of an easel in Frida Kahlo’s studio

I stood in Frida Kahlo’s studio, thinking about this wheelchair by her easel.⁣

Frida came down with polio when she was 6 years old. One leg remained shorter than the other.⁣

She was in a streetcar accident when she was 18. A steel rod pierced her body, causing her pain every day for the rest of her life.⁣

Frida’s sketchbook after her leg was amputated. She gave herself wings.

When Frida was 46, doctors amputated her leg. She drew this, replacing her head with a pigeon’s head and giving herself wings!⁣

She famously said, “Feet, what do I need them for if I have wings to fly?”

Frida painting in the bathroom of her new studio

Frida’s story is about how she faced her suffering with courage and artistic flair.

⁣Frida’s skeleton asked if she could paint me. I agreed, but I said absolutely no nudity! I’m excited to see how it comes out!⁣

⁣That’s Diego behind me. He was also the love, and the tragedy, of her life.

“There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the trolley, and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.”

Leon Trotsky’s bedroom in Frida’s Casa Azul.

They convinced Mexico’s president to give Leon Trotsky refugee status to escape Stalin. Mexico was the only country willing to take him in.

Trotsky and his wife lived with Frida in La Casa Azul.

But the relationship soured, starting with Frida’s affair with Trotsky.

It was revenge sex for Diego’s affair with Frida’s sister.

Frida and Trotsky would flirt in English, since Trotsky wife didn’t understand.

Secondly, Stalin was going to remain in power in Russia, and Frida and Diego switched to Stalin’s side.

Leon Trotsky’s desk, where he was murdered by Roman Mercador

The Trotskys moved to a house nearby in Coyoacan.

This was Trotsky’s work studio.

On August 2 at 5pm, according to Trotsky’s wife, Ramón Mercador entered the garden with a manuscript for Trotsky to read. They had become friends. It was a trap. ⁣

Leon Trotsky’s bathroom

Mercador entered Trotsky’s studio and hit him in the head with an ice pick. Trotsky got up and struggled with Mercador until the guards came.⁣

He survived for 24 hours before being declared dead.

Police arrested Mercador and also….. Frida Kahlo.

As a Stalinist and Trotsky’s ex-lover (see yesterday’s post), she was a suspect. Police released her without charges the next day.

The ultra-modern homes that Diego Rivera commissioned near Coyoacan

In 1929, Mexican artist/architect Juan O’Gorman designed this ultra-modern, funcionalist house.

Diego commissioned O’Gorman to build two more, those you see in the distance.

Galilea, a museum administrator, showed us around.

Frida and Diego lived together but separate in the two houses for five years.

Diego Rivera’s studio flooded with sunlight

You’re looking at Diego’s studio in his ultra-funcionalist home.

The entire wall is a window, letting light in for his paintings. The windows face north because he didn’t want direct sunlight.

The bedroom in Diego’s studio where he brought models

During his breaks, Diego took breaks here in this separate bedroom with his models.

Meanwhile, Frida was in the other house on the property.

They called Diego el sapo, the frog.

Frida’s house on the property is where she had her affair with Leon Trotsky.

The styles that made Frida’s look revolutionary

Frida became a fashion icon. She wore bright, indigenous styles, sometimes mixing them with European styles.

She knew how to distract people’s attention from her disabilities.

She wore long skirts to hide her legs. She wanted to keep the focus on her head and shoulders.

Frida’s corsets that helped her straighten her spine

Getting dressed was a big job for Frida. Her corsets helped to straighten her spine.

And although she used her fashion sense to hide her disabilities, she revealed them all in her paintings.

She also never hid her unibrow. She presented herself exactly as she was.

A modern Frida, all attitude but none of the suffering

These days, Frida is everywhere. I found this mural in Buenos Aires.

But this Frida is all attitude without any of the suffering behind it.

Before the movie Frida went into production, Harvey Weinstein demanded that Salma Hayek remove Frida’s unibrow and her limp.

Salma Hayek refused and won the battle.

I cannot imagine the movie being the same without Frida’s flaws. Frida, as she really was, is just as difficult to accept today as she was in her time.

But many of us accept her flaws. We admire her for living the life she wanted, in spite of her hardships.

Frida showed us that, sometimes, we’re loved in spite of our flaws. And sometimes, we’re loved because of them.


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9 comments

  • She’s a heroine, that’s what she is.
    I absolutely love this, Aixa, though the pics took some time to open, I was patient because I was curious. I read about her a lot – I love her paintings, love her courage – but didn’t know she switched back to Stalin in the end. So, thanks for this. I really enjoyed it.

    I wrote a story once inspired by her (you’ll read it one day), that is when you read it, you’ll know. It was so obvious it was Frida, though I wrote it as if it was me. Unfortunately, the editor didn’t see it, and it made me so sad to see how poorly educated some of them are. Oh well…

    • I think she’s a heroine, too. She made lots of bad life decisions, like we all do, but she showed us that we don’t have to be perfect. She showed us through the way she lived her life, which is the most powerful way to do it.

      I would love to read your story one day. It’s unfortunate how so many editors don’t understand when they’re reading something different but very special.

  • Thank you for the education on Frida. I missed this when I went to Mexico. I love her style and her spirit. I chuckled at the story of her flirting in English with Trotsky by speaking English.

    • There were several things I didn’t like about Frida, but I admire her very much. Next time you’re in Mexico City, come to Coyoacán. You’ll love it!

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