Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera...Love or Lust?
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera are known world-wide for their contributions to the evolution of art. Both artists, although possessing completely different styles, became two of Mexico’s most famous people and in turn revolutionized the world of art. This dynamic pair was not only known for their talent and vision, but also for their stormy love affair that would last over thirty years. Theirs was a love inspired by mutual beliefs and passions. However, often throughout the course of their turbulent relationship, they were viewed as immature school children displaying bouts of jealousy and anger. Despite their problems, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera overcame the obstacles and their love proved enduring.
Frida Kahlo once said, "I suffered two grave accidents in my life. One in which a streetcar knocked me down... The other accident is Diego." Without a doubt, from the moment Kahlo met Rivera in 1922, their relationship was difficult. At the young age of 15, Kahlo met Rivera at the National Preparatory School where she was a student and he a teacher. Despite their age difference and the fact that Rivera was married to Lupe Marin, Kahlo swore that some day she would have a child by Rivera. Although her desire to be with Rivera was merely a fantasy at the time, still she would try to win his attention and incite his wife’s jealousy by playing practical jokes. As it turned out, fate would later intervene and the seemingly odd pair would come together.
After their initial meeting, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera parted ways and did not see each other for some time. It was not until 1928 that the pair crossed paths again, thanks to the photographer and revolutionary, Tina Modotti. When Modotti reintroduced the two artists, the circumstances were more favorable as Rivera was no longer married to Lupe. Immediately, Kahlo and Rivera realized that they had much in common, including their artistic and political passions. In August, 1929, as the political climate was deteriorating in Mexico, Frieda Kahlo and Diego Rivera were married.
During the year that Kahlo and Rivera married, Rivera’s artistic career expanded internationally. In 1930, the couple left for San Francisco and one year later, for New York and Detroit. Up until that time, Kahlo was simply known as Rivera’s charismatic wife and was not yet respected as an influential artist. This would change in 1932, when Kahlo experienced a devastating miscarriage. While she was recovering, Kahlo, known for her very personal and intimate style, painted a self-portrait entitled ‘Miscarriage in Detroit’. This was to be the first of several poignant and startling astute self-portraits that would rocket Kahlo to stardom in the artistic world.
In the following years, Kahlo continued to cement her reputation as an artistic great, but the question of where to live was posing a strain on her marriage. Rivera had fallen in love with the United States, while Kahlo loathed the country and wanted to remain in Mexico. After much heated debate, the couple returned to Mexico in 1935 only to encounter their biggest problem yet. Soon after arriving home, Rivera had an affair with Kahlo’s younger sister Christina, and Kahlo was devastated by her husband and her sister’s betrayal of trust. Although the couple finally reconciled, Rivera’s affair had marked a turning point in their relationship and both partners would subsequently succumb to infidelity and betrayal.
In 1940, the couple divorced for reasons they refused to divulge, but they still frequently made public appearances. Over the course of several years, both artists were involved in other relationships, but in 1950, as Kahlo’s health was deteriorating, the pair were reunited and remarried. Some speculated that Kahlo used her failing health as a means to hold Rivera’s attention, but despite these rumors, it could not be denied that Frieda Kahlo was dying and Diego Rivera was there to comfort her.
Despite the infidelities and the passionate disputes, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s love endured. In 1954, when Frida passed away, it was Diego who was by her side. The love affair of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera was of epic proportions and inspired their art, making the couple artistic legends.
This article was written by Betty Botis
Betty Botis is an avid art collector and fan of all Diego Rivera's art. She is also a freelance writer for Diego Rivera Prints.