The last few days I’ve been watching the Oscar-winning movie, Frida, featuring Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo. First things first, don’t watch this with your kids. Don’t even watch this with your kids in the general vicinity of your house.
Diego: I always had a soft spot for him because of the mural he did in my beloved home state. But he was actually horrible. The movie makes him a little sympathetic, but I won’t be fooled. He was a Communist, adulterer (he had an affair with Frida’s sister, which is even worse than your sister borrowing your favorite shirt without asking), and there’s a rumor he dabbled in cannibalism. He claimed to enjoy human brain. Even if that’s a lie, it’s a weird thing to lie about. Nonetheless, he was an artist and this is a blog about all kinds of art. Even that which is done by a Trotsky-adoring weasel. (I did not know who Trotsky was. He was Stalin’s rival, but they were two sides of the same coin.)
So here is a Rivera mural. It was in Rockefeller Center for juuuuuust a moment before they scraped it off. It wasn’t what the Rockefellers and Rivera agreed upon, but the Rockefellers were willing to concede, if only Rivera would remove Stalin from the painting. Rivera refused and all his hard work was scraped into the dumpster. (I’m shrugging as I type, like “what did you expect, buddy?”)
|Can you spot the Commie?|
Later, Rivera repainted the mural in Mexico. I can only liken this to the time my puppy unraveled the baby blanket I was knitting. I vowed I would not reknit it, but then, when enough time had passed and my wounds were healed, I did. Same sort of thing, I think.
Frida: Let’s talk Frida, who in life wasn’t as well-known as her nutty husband, but now is way more famous. I don’t know how exact the depiction was in the movie, but from what I’ve read, it was quite accurate. Even if it was just a pinch truthful? That girl was a firecracker. And forgiving. So very forgiving of Rivera. Maybe because she was having her own affairs with… Trotsky! Rivera’s beloved Trotsky! This is the stuff telenovela’s are made of.
Kahlo did not have an easy life. She suffered crippling pain almost her entire life from a bus accident in her teenage years, she married a jerk, she couldn’t have the children she desperately wanted, and she lost her leg to gangrene. Yet. She was funny (serious people do not take ownership of their facial hair the way Kahlo did), talented, and vivacious. She is quoted as saying, “Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light. Tragedy is the most ridiculous thing.” And she seemed to laugh as much as she cried.
Frida was a pro at self-portraits. She painted 55 of them over her career. Here are two of the most famous. The one she gave to Trotsky is my favorite.
|Trotsky’s wife made him leave this gift from Frida behind when they moved.|
|Rivera gave her the monkey on her shoulder as a gift. Literally and figuratively.|
If you’re looking for an entertaining, informative biography, I recommend Frida (it’s on Netflix) the next time your kids are far, far away.