Thanks to my longstanding, ongoing obsession with the relationship between the artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera (as previously discussed here and here) I was very excited to learn that the High Museum of Art in Atlanta has a new exhibit focusing on my favorite couple. It opened on February 14th, 2013, and runs through May 12th, 2013.
pair together works by Kahlo and Rivera chronologically and according to themes, including maternity, Mexican identity and portraiture.
I’ll be honest, my main interest in the couple is less high falutin’ than that and far more telenovela. Despite the exhibit opening on Valentine’s Day, and despite the love that doubtless existed between the two, I’m way more interested in all of the infidelity that defined their marriage far more so than most couples would ever be willing to admit. I have several reasons for that interest, but for the moment let’s just say I’m trying to figure out whether marital strife was helpful to Frida Kahlo’s art or harmful.
Diego Rivera seemed to think it was helpful, on the balance. In this quote from his autobiography, as found in the seminal biography Frida, he describes their decision to divorce. (They later remarried.)
We still loved each other. I simply wanted to be free to carry on with any woman who caught my fancy. Yet Frida did not object to my infidelity as such. What she could not understand was my choosing women who were either unworthy of me or inferior to her. She took it as a personal humiliation to be abandoned for sluts. To let her draw any line, however, was this not to circumscribe my freedom? Or was I simply the depraved victim of my own appetites?
During the two years we lived apart, Frida turned out some of her best work, sublimating her anguish into her painting.
Interesting, no? One way or another, I’ll find my way to Atlanta before this exhibit closes to see if I can learn more.
Alison J. Stein
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