The most important relationship within Frida Kahlo's life would have to have been that which she shared with her husband, Diego Rivera. This disfunctional couple would inspire each other's art and develop greatily during their time together.
During their own lifetimes Rivera was certainly the most famous of the two, but in recent years this has changed. Kahlo's husband helped Frida in the early years after her serious bus accident when previously they were mere acquaintances. They would travel together and Frida quickly realised that Rivera was very unlike anyone she had ever met, and that their time together would always be exciting and interesting. He also brought her opportunities which would enable Frida to make the most of her life, at a time when she may have wondered if she would forever be restricted by the physical and mental scars which left her bedridden in 1925 for several months after her bus crash. Perhaps she was vulnerable and Rivera took advantage, but is should never be forgotten that Frida was a very strong character herself, and so should never be seen as a victim within this complex relationship.
Their relationship would include marriage, divorce, re-marriage plus also affairs, rumours of other affairs and also abortions. Frida's inability to deliver a child with Diego was perhaps her biggest regret of all, underlining their incredible connection. Some might argue that she was even just lucky to be alive after the horrific accident as an eighteen year old in Mexico City, particularly given that others died in the very same incident. The repercussions would be felt for the rest of her life, though, and the injuries are believed to have been the main reason for her not being able to bear children. Art would, naturally, play a big part in their lives and their relationship, with each inspiring the work of the other. Frida would produce portraits of her husband alone as well as the couple together and for all the problems that they had, it seemed that initial spark would never die.
Diego Rivera was the first to discover Frida's artistic ability. He was asked to review her work and was impressed with what he saw. Rivera spotted clear signs of a unique personality and expressive nature, even at this early age and returned a glowing reference, strongly encouraging Kahlo to continue with her plans to become an artist. Up to then she had been following a path towards medicine, and was even considering botany illustration as a means to combining the two. They met properly in 1928 and from that point onwards their bond would remain strong. Frida spent time at a number of parties arranged by Italian-American photographer Tina Modotti and it was here that she was re-acquainted with Diego, having briefly met him several years earlier when he had visited her school for a small project. Frida's family was immediately against their relationship but a spark between the two was simply too strong to ignore from that point onwards.
What was the Age Difference between Frida and Diego?
One of the main concerns for Frida's family about this relationship was the large age gap that existed between the two. There was actually twenty years difference in total, which is considered a lot in almost any culture or period in time. Rivera also had connections to other women at the time and a far from settled lovelife, making him a potentially bad match in the eyes of Kahlo's parents. Somewhat amusingly, they described the relationship as a "marriage between an elephant and a dove", and it is important to note that there was also a huge size difference, as well as age. Rivera was tall and bulky, much the opposite to Frida, but their connection through art, plus strong characters, ensured that this was a case of opposites attract. Eventually, the parents would give their blessing, mainly because they were worried of Frida's future after her accident and saw in Rivera someone who could certainly provide for her financially. He was also sufficiently famous that their first wedding would receive considerable media attention.
Why Did Frida and Diego First Separate?
Their first marriage lasted ten years, after first tying the knot back in 1929. By 1939 the constant affairs would take their toll and so the couple decided to part their ways and seek divorce. Normally one might assume that the male was behind the destructive behaviour, and statistically that is most likely, but actually both Frida and Diego would have affairs with several different people and so neither was blameless for the eventual breakup of the marriage. Frida in fact would have romantic moments with both men and women, underlining her love of life and an entirely progressive, open minded attitude. They would also have both changed considerably during that decade and so any cracks that occurred as a result of that would have been widened by their lack of faithful behaviour. As expressive artists, they also both had fairly hot-headed, bold characters which would eventually clash over time and so conflict was no surprise.
Why Did Frida Kahlo Remarry?
Just a year after their divorce, Frida and Diego would agree to marry again for the second time. Frida was by now a much more confident woman and entirely aware of her w own worth and so made several demands of her husband-to-be prior to agreeing to getting married again. She refused anymore money from him and also would no-longer have sex with him either. The two agreed on these terms and re-married. The two had become something of an international brand, the sort of which we see frequently today, and they realised that there were clear benefits to being together. They also shared a great love for each other but the extra-marital affairs would likely continue and so they chose to leave sex behind in terms of their own relationship. It was clear that they had learn from past mistakes and managed to reach a new agreement for their relationship which had a better understanding of the two people involved and offered a greater chance of success through some pragmatic adjustments.
How long were Diego and Frida married?
Their initial marriage lasted ten years and then their second effort lasted until Frida sadly passed away relatively young. They were therefore married together for around twenty four years in total, with Rivera also being married to several others within his own lifetime. They made the most of these years, too, with many ups and downs, including extra maritals affairs with some major figures from the political and celebrity worlds, as well as some failed attempts to have children and also considerable success within their own respective careers. Diego did bring travel opportunities to Frida for the first time and this would become another major passion within her life as she sought to expand her horizons and find even more influences for her work. That said, she always remained very much a Mexican with a great fondness for the culture in which she was raised.
Who Today is more Famous?
Frida Kahlo would rise to become much more famous than Diego Rivera within the present day. Rivera is much loved around the world for his series of Mexican murals and can be considered one of the most famous artists in history. He is though only known within the art world itself, or by those who come across his life whilst studying his wife. Frida however has risen far beyond the boundaries of her art, becoming a true feminine icon for young women today. Her image can be found on all manner of different products and her unusual background and turbulent life have made many feel somewhat protective of her. Her reputation has therefore entered the mainstream, and is popular amongst most western nations as well as her native Mexico and other neighbouring countries. Most art galleries and museums in the US and Europe focus on those two markets, making it harder for Mexicans to break into these worlds, but that has been changing in the past decade or so, with collections and exhibitions aiming to be more representative of changing ethnic balances across the different nations.
Which of Frida's Paintings feature the Couple Together?
Frida was a Surrealist artist who would often focus upon herself within her paintings. Around half of her paintings would actually be self portraits but she also produced portraits of those close to her, such as friends and family. Rivera was an obvious choice and the two would draw and paint each other fairly regularly. They would also produce portraits of their lovers whilst being married, although probably without informing the other of their infidelity. We have included below some of the paintings by Kahlo which featured Rivera among them, though you will notice of how she liked to avoid purely realistic depictions and would add all manner of weird and wonderful additions which was typical of the Surrealist approach. It was also her skills of portraiture which first impressed her older partner, long before their relationship would be anything but teacher-student. One can also track her life through these various paintings as each one was filled with her own emotions around elements from her personal life.
Why Did Frida Refer to her Marriage as her Second Accident?
Frida Kahlo amusingly compared her life with Diego Rivera as her second accident, coming as it did after her initial bus crash as an eighteen year old. Her suggestion was that this turbulent relationship was just as harrowing and life changing as the incident which left her with considerable ongoing mental and physical problems. Both knew that their relationship was entirely dysfunctional, but at the same time was filled with huge levels of love and passion, the like of which they struggled to find with others. In refering to their marriage as a second accident, Frida was also demonstrating an acknowledgement of the situation, as well as a strong and dark sense of humour as to the entire scenario. She was no shrinking violet, it must be said, and sometimes because of the huge difference in size between the two figures, she would sometimes be seen only in the context of victim and was actually a strong willed woman who was as highly capable as anyone could wish to meet.