Diego & Frida: A Marriage Better Suited for Canvas

The tumultuous pairing of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.

Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo were referred to as “the elephant and the dove.” His robust figure coupled with her petite size were only outmatched by their passions. Both artists carried on numerous extramarital affairs. As members of the Communist Party, they embraced the plight of the working class and the less privileged. Despite the affairs, their ideology bound them together.

Frida Kahlo self-portrait in 1937.

Frida Kahlo dedicated her 1937 self-portrait to her ex-lover Leon Trotsky. The Russian communist icon and his wife had emigrated from Russia to Mexico. The couple developed a close friendship with Rivera and Kahlo and lived with them for a time. In 1940 Trotsky was bludgeoned to death with a pick ax in his office by an agent working for his nemesis Joseph Stalin. The United States refused to admit his body for burial, so Trotsky was cremated and buried outside of Mexico City.

Arrest then Accolades for Frida

Frida and Diego were implicated in the assassination. Frida was arrested and spent two days in prison. Diego was in San Francisco at the time, so the authorities couldn’t get to him. Once the couple was cleared of any wrong doing, Frida’s career took off. She had exhibits in New York and Paris. Kahlo’s work was being hailed by other artists, including Pablo Picasso. Her professional life flourished while her personal life was crumbling. As she travelled for business Diego carried on with his very public affairs.

While the Cat’s Away…..

When Kahlo returned to Mexico she threw Diego out and the couple divorced in 1939. Rivera’s personal life was almost as famous as his paintings. Not only was he a ladies’ man, he had fathered two illegitimate children with different women. Rivera ended up marrying four times, on two occasions to Frida Kahlo.

Till Death Do Us Part

During their second marriage the couple concentrated on mending their relationship. They were also very prolific artists during this time. Diego Rivera became the most widely acclaimed artist of Mexico. For the next decade he cared for Frida during her numerous trips to the hospital. He also had the financial means to pay for all of her medical expenses. Diego Rivera had a notorious reputation as being unfaithful yet he stayed with Frida Kahlo until the end.

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