The Diary of Frida Kahlo, An Intimate Self-Portrait

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The Diary of Frida Kahlo, An Intimate Self-Portrait

Postby admin » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:26 am

The Diary of Frida Kahlo, An Intimate Self-Portrait
by Frida Kahlo
© 1995 Banco de Mexico, as trustee for the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Museums, Mexico, D.F.




Table of Contents:

• Introduction by Carlos Fuentes
• Essay by Sarah M. Lowe
• Chronology
• Facsimile and Translation of the Diary of Frida Kahlo [Librarian's Comment: Disrespectful and Derisive Commentary by Carlos Fuentes omitted. Plenty of that to be found in his introduction.)
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Re: The Diary of Frida Kahlo, An Intimate Self-Portrait

Postby admin » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:27 am

by Carlos Fuentes


I only saw Frida Kahlo once. But first, I heard her. I was at a concert in the Palacio de Bellas Artes -- the Palace of Fine Arts in the center of Mexico City, a construction begun under the administration of the old dictator Porfirio Dfaz in 1905 and very much in tune with the tastes of the Mexican elite at the turn of the century. An Italianate mausoleum in white marble, fashioned in the purest wedding-cake style, it remained in a state of physical and aesthetic suspension during the following thirty years of civil strife in Mexico. When it was finally inaugurated in 1934, the ornate, frozen meringue of the exterior had been thoroughly denied by the Art Deco interior -- yet another bow to the fashion of a new day. The streamlined, sweeping staircases, balustrades, and corridors shone with burnished copper and beveled glass, while the walls were decorated with the angry, sometimes strident murals of Orozco, Rivera, and Siqueiros.

The auditorium itself was the supreme sanctuary of Art Deco, culminating in a magnificent glass curtain by Tiffany depicting the guardian mountains of the valley of Mexico: the volcanoes Popocatepetl, the Smoking Mountain, and Ixtaccihuatl, the Sleeping Woman. A subtle play of lights permitted the spectator, during intermissions, to go from dawn to dusk, from aurora to crepusculum, in fifteen minutes.

All of this in order to say that as Kahlo entered her box in the second tier of the theater, all of these splendors and distractions came to naught. The jangling of sumptuous jewelry drowned out the sounds of the orchestra, but something beyond mere noise forced us all to look upwards and discover the apparition that announced herself with an incredible throb of metallic rhythms and then exhibited the self that both the noise of the jewelry and the silent magnetism displayed.

It was the entrance of an Aztec goddess, perhaps Coatlicue, the mother deity wrapped in her skirt of serpents, exhibiting her own lacerated, bloody hands the way other women sport a brooch. Perhaps it was Tlazolteotl, the goddess of both impurity and purity in the Indian pantheon, the feminine vulture who must devour filth in order to cleanse the universe. Or maybe we were seeing the Spanish Earth Mother, the Lady of Elche, rooted to the soil by her heavy stone helmet, her earrings as big as cartwheels, her pectorals devouring her breasts, her rings transforming her hands into claws.

A Christmas tree?

A pinata?

Frida Kahlo was more like a broken Cleopatra, hiding her tortured body, her shriveled leg, her broken foot, her orthopedic corsets, under the spectacular finery of the peasant women of Mexico, who for centuries jealously kept the ancient jewels hidden away, protected from poverty, to be displayed only at the great fiestas of the agrarian communities. The laces, the ribbons, the skirts, the rustling petticoats, the braids, the moonlike headdresses opening up her face like the wings of a dark butterfly: Frida Kahlo, showing us all that suffering could not wither, nor sickness stale, her infinite variety.


The body of Frida Kahlo, first of all. Seeing her there, in the opera box, once the clanging had stopped, once the silks and bracelets had rested, once the laws of gravity had imposed a stillness on the grand entrance, once the flares of the procession had died and the ceremonial halo, Aztec and Mediterranean, rabidly un-Anglo, that surrounded Kahlo had dimmed, one could only think: The body is the temple of the soul. The face is the temple of the body. And when the body breaks, the soul has no other shrine except the face.

What a mysterious sisterhood, I thought as I resumed hearing the Parsifal Overture once the entrance of Frida Kahlo had upstaged everything and everybody, what a mysterious sisterhood between the body of Frida Kahlo and the deep divisions of Mexico during her early years. It all came together in this place, the Palace of Fine Arts, and this woman, the artist Frida Kahlo.

The Palace was conceived during the Pax Porfiriana, the thirty years of self-proclaimed Order and Progress under General Porfirio Dfaz, which had come to an end in 1910, three years after Frida's birth. Before that, the epic of Mexican history unfolded very much as in the murals of Kahlo's husband, Diego Rivera. In linear succession, Mexico had gone from Indian empire to Spanish vice- royalty to independent republic. But in Mexico nothing is strictly linear. Within each period, a form of turbulence, an inner spiral, wounds and disrupts the political life of the country, crushes, petrifies, or exiles its symbols.

The Aztec world, a sacrificial theocracy, wanted to wed the promises of peace and creativity symbolized by the Feathered Serpent, Quetzalcoatl, with the bellicose necessities demanded by the bloodthirsty god of war, Huitzilopochtli. Therefore the starkly ambiguous character of the Aztec universe: great artistic and moral achievements side by side with execution, blood rites, and terror. Ancient Mexico became victim of both myths when the Spanish captain Hernan Cortes arrived on the day foreseen for the return of Quetzalcoatl but proved to be as bloody as Huitzilopochtli. But more than the Aztec divinities, Cortes reassembled his own Renaissance model, the condottiero, the Machiavellian prince, and conquered Mexico with a mixture of wile and force.

Mexico is a country that has been made by its wounds. A nation enslaved, forever stunned by the flight of the gods, sadly yet eagerly sought out its new divinities and found them in the father figure -- Christ, the crucified God who did not exact sacrifice from men, but sacrificed himself for all, and Guadalupe, the Virgin who restored pure motherhood to the orphaned Indian, ashamed of the betrayal of La Malinche, Cortes's mistress.

During the Colonial period, Mexico created a mestizo culture, both Indian and European, baroque, syncretic, unsatisfied. Independence, in 1821, liberated the country in the name of freedom but not of equality. The lives of the great masses of Indians and mestizos, mostly peasants, remained unchanged. The laws did change, but had nothing to do with the real life of real people. The divorce between ideal laws and stubborn realities made the nation ungovernable, prey to uninterrupted civil war and foreign invasion. A dismembered, mendicant, humbled Mexico, forever at the foot of foreign creditors, foreign armies, plundering oligarchs: This is the external, dramatic, perhaps obvious Mexico painted by Rivera.

Two foreign traumas -- the loss of half of the national territory to the United States in 1848, the French invasion of 1862 and the phantom crown of Maximilian and Carlota -- made the schism of the body of Mexico unbearable. The nation reacted through the Liberal revolution, the character of Benito Juarez, and the creation of a national state, secular and under the rule of law. Porfirio Diaz perverted the republic of Juarez, gave priority to development over freedom, and placed a mask on the face of Mexico, proclaiming to the world: we are now reliable, progressive, modern. The peasant armies of Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata rose from the land to say no, we are these dark, wounded faces that have never seen themselves in a mirror. No one has ever painted our portraits. Our bodies are broken in half. We are two nations, as Disraeli said of industrial England. Always two Mexicos, the gilt-edged, paper elite and the downtrodden millions of the earth. When the people rose in 1910, they rode the breadth of Mexico, communicating an isolated country, offering themselves the invisible gifts of language, color, music, popular art. Whatever its political failures, the Mexican Revolution was a cultural success. It revealed a nation to itself. It made clear the cultural continuity of Mexico, in spite of all the political fractures. It educated women like Frida Kahlo and men like Diego Rivera, making them realize all that they had forgotten, all that they wanted to become.


Rivera and Kahlo. He paints the cavalcade of Mexican history, the endless, at times depressing, repetition of masks and gestures, comedy and tragedy. In his finest moments, something shines behind the plethora of figures and events, and that is a humble beauty, a persevering attachment to color, form, the land and its fruits, the sex and its bodies. But the internal equivalent of this bloody rupture of history is Frida's domain.

As the people are cleft in twain by poverty, revolution, memory, and hope, so she, the individual, the irreplaceable, the unrepeatable woman called Frida Kahlo is broken, torn inside her own body much as Mexico is torn outside. Rivera and Kahlo: has it been sufficiently stressed that they are two sides of the same Mexican coin, almost comical in their Mutt and Jeff disparity? The elephant and the dove, yes, but also the blind bull, in so many ways insensitive, rampaging, immensely energetic, poured towards the outside world, and married to the fragile, sensitive, crushed butterfly who forever repeated the cycle from larva to chrysalis to obsidian fairy, spreading her brilliant wings only to be pinned down, over and over, astoundingly resistant to her pain, until the name of both the suffering and the end of the suffering becomes death.

How much more than this was in Kahlo, was Kahlo, her Diary now shows us: her joy, her fun, her fantastic imagination. The Diary is her lifeline to the world. When she saw herself, she painted and she painted because she was alone and she was the subject she knew best. But when she saw the world, she wrote, paradoxically, her Diary, a painted Diary which makes us realize that no matter how interior her work was, it was always uncannily close to the proximate, material world of animals, fruits, plants, earths, skies.

Born with the Revolution, Frida Kahlo both mirrors and transcends the central event of twentieth-century Mexico. She mirrors it in her images of suffering, destruction, bloodshed, mutilation, loss, but also in her image of humor, gaiety, alegria, that so distinguished her painful life. The resilience, the creativity, the jokes that run through the Diary illuminate the capacity for survival that distinguishes the paintings. All together, these expressions make her fantastically, unavoidably, dangerously, symbolic -- or is it symptomatic? -- of Mexico.

A prancing, cheerful child stricken by polio and stung by the peculiar Mexican capacity for malice, for ridiculing the other, especially the infirm, the imperfect. Beautiful little Frida, the striking child of German, Hungarian, and Mexican parenthoods, little Frida, with her bangs and her billowy ribbons and huge headknots, suddenly becomes Frida the pegleg, Frida pata de palo. The taunting screams from the recess playground must have followed her all her life.

They did not defeat her. She became the joker, the sprite, the feminine Ariel of the National Preparatory School at the time when Mexico, intellectually, was discarding the rigid philosophical armor of Scientific Positivism and discovering the indiscreet, if liberating, charms of intuition, children, Indians ...

Mexico, Latin America were then very much under the influence of French culture. France was a way of avoiding two undesirable proximities: the cold, materialistic, Protestant, and overpowering North -- the U.S.A. -- and the chaotic, Catholic, torrid, powerless South -- Spain, ourselves. Auguste Comte and his philosophy of rational, inevitable scientific progression towards human perfection were shed in 1910 in favor of Henri Bergson and his philosophy of the vital elan, intuition, and spiritual evolution. The philosopher Antonio Caso, the novelist Martin Luis Guzman (who rode with Villa and chronicled the guerrilla leader as a force of nature), the educator Jose Vasconcelos (who wrote the frankest autobiography Mexico had ever read, candidly revealing his sexual and emotional nakedness), all promoted their version of the Bergsonian vital impulse. Only Alfonso Reyes, the greatest writer of his generation, voted for a sort of Attic detachment. But the arts, more and more, discovered the native, peasant, Indian roots hidden by the marble facades of the Porfiriato.

Kahlo the young, disguised in manly clothes, a Saint Joan of the liberating culture of the Revolution, an armed foot soldier of the Mexican legions of Bergsonism, was part of a group known as Las Cachuchas -- The Caps -- proud and defiant in their denim clothes and proletarian, urchin-like cloth caps, making fun of all solemn figures (including the above-mentioned philosopher Caso, whose classes they turned into sheer turmoil), roaring and ripping through the halls of academe, planting banana peels at the foot of the statues of Scientific Order and Progress, stealing streetcars as in a Bunuel film yet to come.

How close this prankish spirit was to the aesthetics of the revolution in Mexico: Frida Kahlo admired Saturnino Herran, Dr. Atl, the liberators of Mexican form, landscape, and color from academic restrictions. She is a lover of Brueghel and his belching popular carnivals, full of innocent monsters and perverse gluttons and dark fantasies offered like our daily bread, in bright colors and open sunlight. Fantasy with realism, internal darkness under midday lights. These became fundamental influences on the art of Kahlo.

Without knowing then, she and her friends replayed the outrageous jokes of Dada and Surrealism, but her sources were closer to home. Sighed a former guerrilla turned bureaucrat, "This revolution has now degenerated into a government." The degeneration is chronicled in a few novels and films, but most especially it became the butt of satirical skits staged in the carpas, the popular tents in proletarian barrios, from which the great comedians of Mexico -- Soto, Medel, Cantinflas -- would emerge. The carpas became the safety valve of a society caught between the promises of the Revolution, its actual achievements in education, health, communications, and its persistent perversions in corruption, undiminished strife, and political authoritarianism.

Mexico City, today the world's largest metropolis, was small then, with no more than 400,000 people. The Revolution, said Kahlo, left Mexico City empty, one million Mexicans having died at war between 1910 and 1920. It was a lovely, rose-colored city of magnificent Colonial churches and palaces, mock-Parisian private mansions, many two-story buildings with big painted gates (zaguanes) and wrought-iron balconies; sweet, disorganized parks, silent lovers, broad avenues and dark streets. And crystalline, unpolluted air.

Throughout her life, Kahlo went out in search of the darker city, discovering its colors and smells, laughing in the carpas, entering the cantinas, searching for the company she could relate to, for Frida Kahlo was a lonely woman in need of comradeship, groups, and very close friendships, Las Cachuchas first, Los Fridos later, the need to be part of a human grenade, closely stuck, to protect her from the rampant cannibalism of Mexican intellectual life. Defenderse de los cabrones, "Protect oneself from the bastards." That was one of her lifetime slogans. "It is unbelievable," she once said of Diego Rivera, "that the lowest insults ... should have been vomited in his own home, Mexico." Not unbelievable at all.

Yet the city she both loved and feared struck at her without pity, In September of 1925 a streetcar crashed into the fragile bus she was riding, broke her spinal column, her collarbone, her ribs, her pelvis. Her already withered leg now suffered eleven fractures. Her left shoulder was now forever out of joint, one of her feet crushed. A handrail crashed into her back and came out through her vagina. At the same time, the impact of the crash left Frida naked and bloodied, but covered with gold dust. Despoiled of her clothes, showered by a broken packet of powdered gold carried by an artisan: will there ever be a more terrible and beautiful portrait of Frida than this one? Would she ever paint herself -- or could she paint herself other than -- as this "terrible beauty, changed utterly"?

The pain, the body, the city, the country. Kahlo. Frida, the art of Frida Kahlo.


In her great work on the body in pain, Elaine Scarry lucidly notes that the pain of others is but a transitory fact in our own consciousness.

Is pain something you cannot share?

Even more, is pain something that can be said at all?

It is undescribable, writes Virginia Woolf. You can know the thoughts of Hamlet, but you cannot truly describe a headache. For pain destroys language. Philoctetes, the Greek warrior bitten by a snake, is abandoned on the island of Lemnos to his fetid wounds and his horrifying screams of pain. His speech is punctuated by animal screams and grunts, by the monosyllables of inarticulate suffering. And when Conan Doyle, in one of his eeriest stories, sends a scientific expedition down to the very center of the earth, all that the explorers receive, when they touch the planet's core, is a terrifying scream which almost makes them lose their minds.

Pain, writes Scarry, resists becoming an object of language. So pain is best expressed by those who do not feel it but speak in the name of pain. In a famous page, Nietzsche says that he has decided to call his pain "Dog." "It is equally faithful, unobtrusive and shameless, equally fun to be with ... and I can scold it and vent my evil tempers on it ..."

Frida Kahlo had a Dog called Pain, more than a Pain called Dog. I mean, she directly describes her own pain, it does not render her mute, her scream is articulate because it achieves a visible and emotional form. Frida Kahlo is one of the greatest speakers for pain in a century that has known, perhaps not more suffering than other times, but certainly a more unjustified and therefore shameful, cynical and publicized, programmed, irrational, and deliberate form of suffering than ever. From the Armenian massacres to Auschwirz, from the rape of Nanking to the gulag, from the Japanese POW camps to the nuclear holocaust in Hiroshima, we have seen pain, we have felt horror, as never before in history. How could this all happen in our own modern, progressive, civilized times?

The bloodshed of the Mexican Revolution is small beer indeed next to the executions ordered by Hitler and Stalin. Frida Kahlo, as no other artist of our tortured century, translated pain into art. She suffered thirty-two operations from the day of her accident to the day of her death. Her biography consists of twenty-nine years of pain. From 1944 on, she is forced to wear eight corsets. In 1953, her leg is amputated as gangrene sets in. She secretes through her wounded back, "smelling like a dead dog." She is hung naked, head down, from her feet, to strengthen her spinal column. She loses her fetuses in pools of blood. She is forever surrounded by clots, chloroform, bandages, needles, scalpels. She is the Mexican Saint Sebastian, slinged and arrowed. She is the tragic embodiment of Plato's very forthright description: The body is like a tomb that imprisons us much as the oyster is caught within the shell.

She reminds one of the Aztec goddesses of Birth and Earth, but even more of the flagellant deity, Xipe Totec, Our Lord of the Flayed Skin, the dualistic divinity whose skin was never his own, whether he wore that of the sacrificial victim as a macabre cloak, or whether he himself was shedding his own skin, as a serpent does, to signify a rite of renewal, even of resurrection. (The gods of Mexico have this ambiguous quality: the good they promise is inseparable from the evils they bestow. Xipe Totec, symbol of resurrection, Spring deity, also inflicts sacrifices, blisters, and festering on his human devotees.)

In The Broken Column or in Tree of Hope, Kahlo portrays herself as this flayed skin, this bleeding, open skin, cut in half like a papaya fruit. As she lies naked in a hospital bed in Detroit, bleeding and pregnant, Rivera writes: "endurance of truth, reality, cruelty, and suffering. Never before had a woman put such agonized poetry on canvas ..." For what she lives is what she paints. But no human experience, painful as it may be, becomes art by itself. How did Kahlo transform personal suffering into art, not impersonal, but shared?


Her pain. Her body. These are sources of Kahlo's art, but not sufficient, not the only. There is Guillermo Kahlo, her father, a photographer of German and Hungarian-Jewish descent, whose work is close to the rigidity of the posed nineteenth-century portrait. Guillermo Kahlo was much in demand for calendar pictures, probably still caught in the astonishment of being able to give everybody a face. The camera robs the court and even the bourgeois painter of their privilege. Not only the rich, not only the powerful, have a right to own a face. You need no longer count on Velazquez or Joshua Reynolds to immortalize your unique, irrepeatable, but alas, mortal features. Now, the inexpensive camera frees you from anonymity.

Then there is the Mexican church retablo, the humble ex-voto painted on wood or metal by anonymous and equally humble hands, recounting a terrible happening, an accident, an illness, a painful loss, and thanking the saints, God, the Holy Virgin, and their local manifestations -- the Virgin of Zapopan, the Holy Child of Atocha -- for saving our life, our health, our resilience to loss, illness, pain. Thanks for the Miracle.

And then there is Jose Guadalupe Posada, the marvelous Mexican graphic artist of the turn of the century, who drew and printed broadsheets informing the voiceless and the untutored of the happenings, big and small, that concerned their curiosity and even their lives: scenes of murder, suicide, strangulation, mayhem in the streets, brawls in cantinas, monstrosities, and revolutions. Death, whether riding a bicycle or wearing a Lillian Russell hat, presides over the news. It presides over time and and history. Only dreams, including nightmares, seem to have an autonomous, liberated spirit.

But Posada descends from the artistic parentage of Goya, the Spanish universalizer of the eccentric and the marginal from the medieval roundelays of pestilence and death, the danse macabre, and from Brueghel and his rendering of popular life in colorful, minute detail. And to them all, Kahlo adds two favorites, one from the past, one from the present: Bosch and Magritte. They teach Frida that fantasy requires a realistic brush.

She is capable of coming back to her original sources and transforming them. She animates her father's photographs, while retaining some of their stilted flavor. She also takes his calendars and fills them with an interior time, a subjective experience of night and day, summer and fall. "September" is her "September," not the ninth month -- birth, perhaps miscarriage -- of a successive year. Time stands still only to go underground and reappear tinged with the personal images of Frida Kahlo. Not a painter of dreams, she insisted, but a painter of her own reality. "I paint myself because I am alone. I am the subject I know best."

Her reality is her own face, the temple of her broken body, the soul she has left. Like Rembrandt, like Van Gogh, Kahlo tells her biography through her self-portraits. The stages of passion, innocence, suffering, and finally, wisdom, are as evident in the Mexican as in the two great Dutch self-portraitists. But the aura of strangeness, displacement, of objects and dislocation of sceneries, as well as her spontaneous irrationality, have sometimes associated her, as well, with Surrealism.

A ribbon around a bombshell is how Andre Breton described her art, paraphrasing, in a way, Lautreamont's celebrated definition of art as "the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on a dissection table." She is not foreign to the spirit of Surrealism, to be sure. She adores surprises. She would like to see lions come out of bookshelves, instead of books. There is perhaps a marvelous innocence in all of this. Luis Bunuel visited Breton on his deathbed. The old pope of Surrealism took the great filmmaker's hand and said: "Do you realize that no one is surprised any more?"

It is a fitting epitaph on the twentieth-century vanguard's penchant for shocking the bourgeoisie.

Yet Frida Kahlo remains (along with Posada) the most powerful reminder that what the French Surrealists codified has always been an everyday reality in Mexico and Latin America, part of the cultural stream, a spontaneous fusing of myth and fact, dream and vigil, reason and fantasy. The works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and what has come to be labeled "magical realism" are the contemporary images of this truth. Yet the great contribution of the Hispanic spirit, from Cervantes to Borges, and from Velazquez to Kahlo, is the certainty that imagination is capable of founding, if not the world, then certainly a world.

Don Quixote, Las Meninas, the Caprichos of Goya, The Aleph by Borges, the paintings of Matta, Lam, or Tamayo, One Hundred Years of Solitude, add something to reality that was not there before. This is a project far more conscious and acute in societies where reality itself finds scarce political representation. The artist then gives to the society what a repressive authoritarian system takes from, or deprives the society, of.

Miguel Angel Asturias, the Guatemalan writer, and Alejo Carpentier, the Cuban novelist, witnessing the Surrealist Revolution of the 1920s in Paris, soon realized that what Breton and his friends were legislating in France was already the law of life and the imagination in Latin America. Pre-Columbian myth, Afro-American rites, the Baroque hunger for the object of desire, the masks of religious syncretism, gave Latin America its own patent for Surrealism with no need to submit, in the name of anti-Cartesian freedom of association, to very Cartesian rules on what dreams, intuitions, and prosody should properly be like. The French Surrealists, while advocating automatic expression, would still write like eighteenth-century court diarists. Breton's prose is as correct and elegant as that of the Duc de Saint-Simon. Luis Bunuel and Max Ernst, the greatest Surrealists, found their sources, as well as their power to alter and criticize the world, in their own national cultures. Bunuel's films are a single, anarchical, corrosive revision of the very Catholic Spanish culture that nurtured him, while Ernst is the last descendant of the Brothers Grimm and the fantastic fairy tales of the dark German forests: thanks to this tradition, he makes visible the obscurest recesses of dream and nightmare.

This is Kahlo's brand of Surrealism: a capacity to convoke a whole universe out of the bits and fragments of her own self and out of the persistent traditions of her own culture. A vast culture, as I have pointed out. From Bosch and Brueghel to Posada, photography, ex-votos, and perhaps film. Kahlo loved comic film. Laurel and Hardy, the Three Stooges, Chaplin, the Marx Brothers, were her great entertainments. And who and what were these comedians? They are anarchists, perpetually at odds with the law, pursued by the fuzz, answering the demands of law and order with pratfalls, custard pies, and an undefeatable innocence.

Yet no matter how many strands and strains we find in Kahlo's artistic family tree, there always remains a shining, solitary, untransferable question for the artist: How and why did she create such good art? She herself would give a number of answers. Her love of surprise (lions in the bookshelves), her sense that frankness and intimacy were inseparable, her will to eliminate from her paintings all that did not originate in her own interior, lyrical impulses. My themes, she said, are my sensations, my states of mind, my reactions to life. There is Mexico, of course, a country where everything is (or used to be, B.P.: Before Plastics) art, from the humblest kitchen utensil to the loftiest Baroque altar.

All of this, nevertheless, does not account, item by item, for an art which is fused through and through by beauty. What sort of beauty? we have a right to ask. Is this beauty, this terrifying sequence of open wounds, blood clots, miscarriages, black tears, un mar de lagrimas, indeed, a sea of tears?

Frida Kahlo understood, as a part of both her European and Mexican heritage, this simple fact: It is one thing to be a body, and another thing to be beautiful. Kahlo managed to establish a distance from ugliness only to see what was ugly, painful, or cruel with a clearer eye, discovering her affinity, if not with the current model of beauty (Memling, thin? Rubens, fat? Parton, bust? Bardot, derriere? Mae West or Twiggy), then with the truth about her own self, her own face, her own body. Through her art, Kahlo seems to come to terms with her own reality: The horrible, the painful, can lead us to the truth of self-knowledge. It then becomes beautiful simply because it identifies our very being, our innermost qualities. Kahlo's self-portraits are beautiful for the same reason as Rembrandt's: They show us the successive identities of a human being who is not yet, but who is becoming.

This manner of conceiving beauty as truth and self-knowledge, as becoming -- devenir -- requires unblinking courage and is Kahlo's great legacy to the marginal, the invisible men and women of an increasingly faceless, anonymous planet, where only the "photogenic" or the "shocking," as seen on the screens, merits our vision.

Socrates, famous for his ugliness, asked us to close our eyes in order to see "our own internal beauty." Kahlo goes beyond the Socratic demand to close our eyes and open them to a new way of seeing. Sight is the clearest of all the senses, writes Plotinus, yet it is incapable of seeing the soul. And this is so, he adds, because if we were able to see the soul, it would awaken in us a terrible love, an intolerable love. Only beauty has the privilege of looking at the soul without being blinded.

This is Kahlo's privilege. Her art is certainly not an absolute way of discovering the inner self and its identification with beauty in spite of external appearances. Far more than that, it is an approximation of self, of becoming, of not yet, never a fulfillment, always an approach, a search for form which, when found, achieves the Yeatsian aesthetics I evoked a few pages back: "All changed, changed utterly. A terrible beauty is born."


There is an anecdote in Hayden Herrera's famous biography of Kahlo. A frustrated young North American dilettante, Dorothy Hale, committed suicide in 1939 by jumping from a high floor in the Hampshire House building in New York. Her friend Clare Boothe Luce asked Kahlo to paint an homage to the unfortunate and beautiful young woman. The result horrified Luce. Instead of an image of piety and respect-for-the-dead, Frida came up with a startling, sequential yet simultaneistic narrative picture of the suicide itself. We see Hale jumping, in midair, and finally crushed, lifeless and bleeding, on the pavement, staring at the world -- at us -- with eternally open eyes.

Luce admits that she wanted "to destroy the painting with a pair of library scissors, and I wanted a witness to this act." However, she was finally contented when the "offensive legend" saying that she had commissioned the painting was rubbed out.

"Rubbed out": this underworld term, so often heard in Hollywood gangster films, reveals and recalls two facts of Mexican art in relation to U.S. culture. For if the culture of Mexico, as implied in Clare Boothe Luce's censorship of Kahlo's painting, is violent, so is that of Anglo-Saxon America. The genocide of the native Indians, the rape and robbery of their lands, Black slavery, wars against weaker nations, territorial annexations, robber barons, capitalist exploitation, all of this, right down to the urban violence of our own days: this great violence has been generally rubbed out of U.S. history in favor of more epic or idyllic visions. But the culture is then left without appropriate, cathartic, lasting, and even beautiful images of its own violence.

The question, then, is not, when did the U.S.A. lose its innocence? but rather, was the U.S.A. ever innocent? And in consequence, if North American violence is ugly, factual, and lacking in an aesthetic imagery, is it the destiny of Mexico to provide the U.S.A. with beautiful, lasting images of death -- including violence?

I am not belittling the great beauty of many films, paintings, novels, poems, from Hawthorne to Warhol, from Poe to Peckinpah, which express the violence of the U.S.A. I am merely trying to establish a relationship, a questioning, probably a Mexican self-delusion, in relation to the U.S.A.: is it the destiny of Mexico to provide its northern neighbor with beautiful, lasting images of violence, including death?

"Rubbed out": is it not significant, in this sense, that Mexican art in the U.S.A. should constantly have been censored, picketed, hung down, rubbed out (and also, to be just, courageously defended)? The Siqueiros mural in Olvera Street, Los Angeles. The Rivera murals in Rockefeller Center, Detroit, arid the New School. The Orozco mural at Pomona College, California, where a penis-less Prometheus resists the torture of vultures pecking at his body. Have the birds of prey cannibalized, Bobbitt-like, his dick? The vendetta of the student body at Pomona against the censorship imposed on Orozco by the academic authorities is a graffito under the mural: "Prometheus, you must hang it out before you slip it in."

What is this fear, objectively demonstrated in acts of censorship, of the Mexican symbol -- sexual, political, or otherwise -- in the Anglo-American mind?

A ribbon around a bombshell, answered Andre Breton, defining the art of Frida Kahlo, its explosive or, even better, as Breton would have it, its convulsive beauty. The political dimension of this sentence is of course closely related to the Surrealist nostalgia for unity recovered. The internal, oneiric, psychic revolution should be inseparable from the external, political, material, liberating revolution. The marriage of Marx and Freud. But in Kahlo's truly subversive mind, perhaps this would turn out to be the marriage of Groucho Marx and Woody Allen. In an interview several years ago, my wife asked Eugene Ionesco who the two most intelligent and most foolish men of modern times had been. Ionesco answered: Marx and Freud, on both counts. They were rabbis of genius, but foolish rabbis, for they were talkative and betrayed the rabbinical wisdom of silence.

The conflict between the two revolutions, the internal and the external, has pursued all of the writers and artists of the twentieth century. Surrealism shared with Marxism the dream of a humankind liberated from alienation and returned to its pristine origin, the age of gold, when all things belonged to all men, and no one said: This is mine. The Surrealists, furthermore, were the final heirs to the last great all-encompassing European cultural movement, Romanticism. And Romanticism preached, also, a return to the wholeness of man, the unity of the origin, fractured by the history of greed, oppression, alienation. In this, again, Marxists and Romantics could shake hands.

Milan Kundera is perhaps (because of his Czech education) the first writer to have explained that Communism exerted a great attraction on young people everywhere, not because of its abstruse materialist philosophy or even because of Marx's deep and lasting critique of the economy, but because it offered an idyll of purity, of return to original humankind. This was the political culmination of the Romantic dream. Stalin certainly put an end to this illusion, but in the Mexico of the 1930s, Trotsky's exile gave hope to many that the Stalinist perversion could still be corrected and a true worker's state set up, sometime, somewhere.

Frida Kahlo lived in the political Mexico of the revolutionary one-party state, the system of the PNR (National Revolutionary Party), grandparent of the present, endless PRI (Party of Revolutionary Institutions). In the name of furthering the conquests of the Revolution, the Party demanded unity and subservience. There was no other way of combating the foes of the Revolution, i.e., the internal reactionaries (the Catholic Church, the expropriated land-owners) and the external reactionaries (the government of the U.S.A. and the companies it protected in Mexico). In exchange for unity, the government would give Mexicans economic development and social peace. But not democracy, since political freedom would diminish the supreme value of National Unity against foes internal and external.

Nevertheless, the revolutionary governments did push through agrarian reform, public education, a national health and communications system. The aura of revolutionary progress in Mexico attracted many foreign radicals to our country. Frida Kahlo knew Julio Antonio Mella, the founder of the Cuban Communist Parry, and his equally radical paramour, the Italian photographer Tina Modotti -- he was assassinated on a Mexico City street by agents of the Cuban government, she by his side.

Closer to home, Frida's first and great love, the student leader Alejandro G6mez Arias, was unmasking the Mexican government's revolutionary pretensions and calling for the nation's youth, "the Mexican Samurais," to challenge the one-party system. So did the philosopher Jose Vasconcelos, himself the first Education Minister of the Revolution, our Lunacharsky, the philosopher-statesman who gave the public buildings over to the mural painters. In 1929, Vasconcelos starred in an ill-fated attempt to win the presidency in a rigged election. Also in 1929, Kahlo saw the young revolutionary dandy German de Campo, a wonderful orator, fall in a public park as he spoke, killed by a government bullet. The Revolution, like Saturn, was eating her own children. Revolutionary generals opposed to the ruling generals, and uprisings of disaffected military abounded.

Lazaro Cardenas, president between 1934 and 1940, attempted to reconcile national unity and authentic social progress. It was Cardenas who admitted Leon Trotsky to Mexico, saving him, for a time, from Stalin's assassins. Diego Rivera received Trotsky, offered him hospitality and protection, and weathered the blistering attacks of the Mexican Communists. Frida's politics, such as they were, could not be separated from the personality and the actions of Diego Rivera.

First an exciting young Cubist in Paris, Rivera discovered the epic thrill of Renaissance painting (particularly Uccello) and allied it to the nativist lines of Gauguin in Tahiti. His "Mexican" vision -- quite legitimately so -- owed its techniques to European art, more than to Mexican Pre-Columbian aesthetics or, even, to Mexican popular art (Frida was much closer to this than he). Nothing new here. The other muralists were also, formally, more European than they cared to recognize. Jose Clemente Orozco was a German Expressionist and David Alfaro Siqueiros an Italian Futurist. Maya or Aztec artists they certainly were not, and could not be. Their Mexicanist themes required the new, universal forms of the European vanguard in order to be artistically relevant.

A clue to the Mexican artists' love affair with the modern is supplied by Rivera's admiration for modern industry. He surprised many North American and European intellectuals by his glorification of steel and smoke, even praising the beauty of the bank vault. This was the alienation denounced by the likes of Chaplin in Modern Times, and before him by the solar-plexus novels of D. H. Lawrence, and of course, at the very beginning of the Industrial Revolution, by Blake when he spoke of industry's "dark Satanic mills."

That a contemporary Mexican Marxist, so enamored of the humble Indian and the exploited peasant, should also espouse the idyll of industry and materialism only serves to underscore the apparent contradictions of the whole Mexican process, so captured between its native impulses, the Zapata syndrome, and its modernizing impulses, the Ford syndrome. I think that for Rivera there was no contradiction between the two. The great staircase murals at the National Palace in Mexico City actually describe his chiliastic vision of history. The Indian panel culminates with the Emperor and the Sun. The Colonial panel with the Church and the Cross. The Republican panel, with the Red Flag and Karl Marx. All, finally, are millenarist visions of the Church triumphant, not civil or civic proposals.

But when all is said and done, what Rivera, Kahlo, and all the artists of the Mexican Revolution were really discovering, without fully realizing it, was that Mexico has an unbroken, generous, all-encompassing culture in which the past is always present. On this basis we should be able to create an inclusive, not an exclusive, modernity. This, I believe, is the true goal of Latin America, a continent that cannot hope to be explained without its Indian, Black, and European (Mediterranean, Iberian, Greek, Roman, Arab, Jewish) roots.

Frida, then, saw politics through Rivera. And Rivera was an anarchist, a mythomaniac, a compulsive liar, and a fantastic storyteller. How were these qualities (or defects, if you wish) to blend with dogmatic Communism? I have a suspicion that many Latin American Communists are really lapsed Catholics in need of reassurance. Having lost the Catholic roof, they yearn for the Communist shelter. After all, Saint Peter's was a relic of the past, the Kremlin a harbinger of the future. Today when religions resurrect and Marxism is pronounced dead, it is interesting to hark back to the 1930s and try to understand both its illusions and loss of the same. Perhaps our premature burials and resurrections will also be severely judged someday.

Frida and Diego: She admitted that she had suffered two accidents in her life, the streetcar accident and Diego Rivera. Of her love for the man there can be no doubt. He was unfaithful. She reproached him: How could he consort with women unworthy of him or inferior to her?

He admitted it: "The more I loved her, the more I wanted to hurt her." She riposted with many lovers, both men and women. He tolerated the women who loved Frida, but not the men. She absorbed it all in her almost pantheistic, earth-mother, Coatlicue and Lady of Elche, cleansing- vulture manner of love. She wanted to "give birth to Diego Rivera." "I am him," she wrote, "from the most primitive and ancient cells ... at every moment he is my child, my child born every moment, daily from my self."

Such a love, for such a man, in such conditions, could only lead to both sexual fulfillment outside of the child-marriage and to political allegiance within it. Perhaps Frida attempted to bridge both fulfillment and allegiance through her love affair with Leon Trotsky. But Trotsky and Rivera were so different that the arrangement could not hold. The formal, rationalist, disciplined, authoritarian, extremely Old World, European Trotsky was like ice to the fire of the fibbing, sensual, informal, intuitive, taunting, and joking, very New World Rivera. Lev Davidovich the dialectician. Diego Maria the anarchist. Never the twain could meet, and the final rupture between the two men made the woman follow her true, unfaithful, magnificent, torturing, and tender lover: Diego Rivera.

Rivera himself had his eternal love affair with Communism. In and out of the Party, to the extent of firing himself from it, or receiving the heretic Trotsky in Mexico, he withstood the constant assaults of the apparatchiks. What kind of revolutionary was this Rivera, painting murals in Mexican public buildings and American capitalist citadels, receiving money from reactionary Mexican governments and gringo millionaires? Rivera must have had a good laugh: here he was, called a tool of Communism by the millionaires and a tool of capitalism by the Communists. In a sense, it was the best of both worlds! But Frida was right: like many lapsed Catholics who on their deathbeds ask for a priest to confess them, Rivera needed the final rites of the Communist Party.

He was finally readmitted to the political church in 1954, (Frida had dutifully also sought readmission.) Marx, Lenin, and Stalin began to appear in her iconography with the same regularity that Christ, the Virgin, and the saints appear in the Catholic ex-votos that so influenced her art. Marx, Lenin, Stalin. They were the new mediators. Thanks to them the new miracle would occur.

The Cold War sealed these political positions. Not everyone was capable of humor as the Strangeloves held sway in Washington and Moscow and taught us to fear the bomb. I remember the day of Stalin's death, March 4, 1953. My friends and I held a party (Dzhugashvili's Wake) at the loft of the painter and poet Salvador Elizondo in an old Colonial palace on Tacuba Street, where we drank and celebrated the passing of the Man of Steel around a celebrated clipping from that day's edition of a Mexican newspaper, sporting Stalin's effigy framed in black and the supremely pithy headline; "YA!!" ("DEAD!" "GONE!" "NO MORE!"), surrounded, as the church retablos, as Frida's own paintings, by votive lamps. "I lost my balance with the death of Stalin," Frida wrote.

But were we not all together again, united in July of 1954, by the overthrow of the democratic government in Guatemala by a CIA-organized coup? The Good Neighbor Policy was over. The years of Franklin Roosevelt were over. Now, John Foster Dulles pronounced the Guatemala adventure "a glorious victory for democracy." Guatemala sank into forty years of unending dictatorship, genocide, torture, and suffering. Perhaps Frida and Diego grossly overestimated the Communist promise. They did not underestimate the menace of U.S. foreign policy in Latin America.

Such were the parameters of our political life as my generation struggled to find a level of reason and humanity between the Manichean demands of the Cold War and its frozen inhuman warriors -- the Berias, Molotovs, and Vishinkys on one side, the Dulleses, Nixons, and McCarthys on the other. The manifestation for Guatemala was Frida's last appearance in public. She now began her cruel decline towards final suffering and death.

But was there not a deeper sense to her politics than Rivera, Marxism, the Cold War? A glance at her art tells us the truth: Frida Kahlo was a natural pantheist, a woman and an artist involved in the glory of universal celebration, an explorer of the interrelatedness of all things, a priestess declaring everything created as sacred. Fertility symbols -- flowers, fruits, monkeys, parrots -- abound in her art, but never in isolation, always intertwined with ribbons, necklaces, vines, veins, and even thorns. The latter may hurt, but they also bind. Love was the great celebration, the great union, the sacred event, and Frida's love letters to Alejandro G6mez Arias seem written by Catherine Earnshaw to Heathcliff in a Mexican Wuthering Heights, where great romantic passion is driven by the necessity to reunite the whole of creation:

Deep down, you understand me, you know I adore you. You are not only something that is mine, you are me myself.

No wonder that to the demands of revolutionary realism in art she could only answer, truthfully, privately, in her Diary: "I cannot, I cannot!" Her iconographic tokens are there. Her art is elsewhere, engaged not in bowing to reality, but in convoking yet another, a further, an invented reality.


There is a humor in Kahlo that transcends politics and even aesthetics, tickling the ribs of life itself: The Diary is the best example of this ribald, punning, dynamic genius for humorous language that makes Kahlo such an endearing and, finally, happy figure, in spite of all the suffering. Her voice, all who knew her tell us, was deep, rebellious, punctuated by caracajadas -- belly laughs -- and by leperadas -- four-letter words.

To be obscene means to be out of stage, un-scene, un-seen, and Kahlo filled the cup of her moments outside the scene of art and the stage of her highly theatrical persona with jokes both practical and linguistic. The irreverence dated back to the Cachucha days, the stealing of streetcars, the mocking of professors, her ability, in spite of polio, to jump off and onto streetcars, her final mutilation by a streetcar, her love for carpas and cantinas, her joy in singing and hearing Mexican love songs, ballads, and corridos -- history as recalled and sung by the people, yet another link with the art of Posada and the ex-voto. Her immense love of friends, her cuates, her cuatachos, her cuatezones, that is, in an Aztec derivation which is extremely popular in Mexico, her friends seen as her twins, her comrades, her brethren.

She could sing the beautiful couplets of La Malaguena with a perfect falsetto. She got along with carpenters, bartenders, shoemakers, anarchists, servants, budding artists. She had the Mexican knack of turning all words into diminutives, charming the words, babying them, caressing them, discovering, as it were, the clitoris of pleasure in each word: chaparrita for small women, chulito for her male friends, doctorcito, even doctorcito Wilsoncito, for her many doctors, signing herself chiquita, chicuita, tiny one, the smallest one, Friducha, little ol' Frida, herself.

Mexican diminutives are a form of defense against the arrogance of the rich and the oppression of the Mexican authoritarian tradition. Diminutives fake courtesy and submission before the powerful, they anesthetize the arrogant. Then, one day, like Kahlo on her bed of pain, Mexico starts "shooting my way out of the hospital and starting my own revolution." As an artist of great merit and popularity, she was also conscious of the critical cannibalizing which is a permanent characteristic of Mexican intellectual life, where bevies of frustrated dwarfs have their machetes ready to decapitate anyone who stands above them. Her humor, her language, her own very personal chutzpah, were ways of defending herself against the bastards -- Defenderse de Los cabrones.

She applied her humor, as well, to the U.S.A., all the time admitting that the Rockefellers fired you while showing their faces, while Mexicans practiced the stab in the back. Like Rivera, nevertheless, she was baffled by gringo faces and could not paint them. They seemed colorless to her, like half- baked rolls, she said. And the American women who tried to imitate her ended up looking like "cabbages."

But in the U.S.A., as in Mexico, Kahlo and Rivera loved to puncture pretension and defy prejudice. She descended from Hungarian Jews, he from Sephardic exiles of the Spanish Diaspora of 1492. What better way of entering the U.S.A., when some hotels were barred to Jews, than announcing (ten years before Laura Hobson's Gentleman's Agreement) as they registered at the front desk, that they, the Riveras, were Jewish? What greater fun than sitting at dinner with the renowned anti-Semite Henry Ford and inquiring: "Mr. Ford, are you Jewish?"

Necklaces, rings, white organdy headgear, flowery peasant blouses, garnet-colored shawls, long skirts, all of it covering the broken body. Yet dress was a form of humor, too, a great disguise, a theatrical, self-fascinated form of autoeroticism, but also a call to imagine the suffering, naked body underneath and discover its secrets. Rivera said that women are more pornographic than men, for they have sensuality in every part of their body, whereas men have their sexual organs "in just one place." Perhaps Frida pretended to agree and tried not to disappoint Rivera. But in some of her descriptions of her Frog Prince of a husband, she shows us how aware she was that men have as many erogenous zones as women.

The clothes of Frida Kahlo were, nevertheless, more than a second skin. She said it herself: They were a manner of dressing for paradise, of preparing for death. Perhaps she knew that the ancient masks of Teotihuacan, beautifully wrought in mosaic, were meant to cover the faces of the dead, so as to make the corpses presentable in their trip to paradise.

Perhaps her extraordinary regalia, capable of drowning out a Wagner opera when she entered the theater, was but an anticipation of her shroud. She took to her clothes, writes Hayden Herrera, as a nun takes to her veil. She feared ending like the old kingTezozomoc, who was put inside a basket, all wrapped in cotton, for the rest of his days. Her luxurious dresses hid her broken body; they also permitted her to act in a ceremony of ceremonies, a dressing and undressing of herself as laborious, regal, and ritualistic as those of the Emperor Moctezuma, who was helped by several dozen handmaidens, or the levee of the French kings at Versailles, which was witnessed by practically the whole court.

While death tiptoed towards her, she dressed in full regalia to lie in bed and paint. "I am not sick," she would write. "I am broken. But I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint." But as death approaches, the tone changes. "You are killing yourself," she realizes, as drugs and alcohol both alleviate arid condemn her increasingly. But she quickly adds: "There are those who will no longer forget you ..."

Her death comes in Mexico, from Mexico, on July 13, 1954. Our difference from the European conceptions of death as finality is that we see death as origin. We descend from death. We are all children of death. Without the dead, we would not be here, we would not be alive. Death is our companion. Frida had the sense of fooling death, of fooling around with death, using her powers of language to describe death as La Mera Dientona, Old Buck Teeth; La Tostada, The Toasted One; a euphemism for La Chingada, the Fucked One; La Catrina, The Belle of the Ball; La Pelona, The Hairless Bitch, like her beloved itzcuintli puppy dogs. She also spoke of death as La Tia de las Muchachas, The Girls' Aunt, a curious reference to the Spanish title of the Brandon Thomas farce of 1892, Charleys Aunt, where one of the male characters has to disguise himself in lace and crepes as a ponderous old maid, Charley's aunt from Brazil, "where the nuts come from."

Humorous and companionable as death may be, it is important, it is Henry James's "the distinguished thing." Kahlo says almost the same, calling death "an enormous and very silent exit."

Incinerated, she sits bolt upright in the oven, her hair on fire like a halo. She smiles at her friends before dissolving.


FK, Frida Kahlo, Franz Kafka. Two of the greatest symbolic figures of the twentieth century share their initials, their pain, perhaps even their positions in the world. Kafka sees himself as an animal hanging over an abyss, his hind legs still stuck to his father's traditions, his forelegs finding no firm ground. Kahlo, tortured, hung, mutilated, cut up in bits and pieces, eternally metamorphosed by both sickness and art, could say along with her brother Jew from Prague: "There shall be much hope, but not for us": Prague, "the little mother," has claws. So does Mexico City. They do not let go. Kafka's Kahlo, Franz's Frieda: The heroine of The Castle, Kafka's Frieda, is both the way to salvation and the agony of romantic love. For them both, the K of Prague and the K of Mexico, Nietzsche memorably wrote, "Whoever has built a new heaven has found the strength for it only in his own hell."

In the measure that her hope was her art and her art was her heaven, the Diary is Kahlo's greatest attempt to bridge the pain of their body with the glory, humor, fertility, and outwardness of the world. She painted her interior being, her solitude, as few artists have done. The Diary connects her to the world through a magnificent and mysterious consciousness that "we direct ourselves towards ourselves through millions of beings -- stones -- bird creatures -- star beings -- microbe beings -- sources of ourselves."

She will never close her eyes. For as she says here, to each and everyone of us, "I am writing to you with my eyes."

Mexico City, January 1995
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Re: The Diary of Frida Kahlo, An Intimate Self-Portrait

Postby admin » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:28 am

by Sarah M. Lowe


Reading through Frida Kahlo's diary is unquestionably an act of transgression, an undertaking inevitably charged with an element of voyeurism. Her journal is a deeply private expression of her feelings, and was never intended to be viewed publicly. As such, Kahlo's diary belongs to the genre of the journal intime, a private record written by a woman for herself.

The impulses and purposes of a diary are perplexing and sometimes paradoxical. Is it really an autobiography or is the text transformed when it comes to light? Does it retain its integrity when read by another or published? How should a woman's private journal be read, and by extension, what can be learned about Kahlo by reading her diary?

Throughout history, diarists, both men and women, have chronicled their lives framed by their times or by particular historical events. In contrast, the predominant subject of the journal intime, and Kahlo's own diary specifically, is the self. Kahlo's motivation has less to do with communication than with negotiating her relationship to her self, and thus the conundrum -- why write if no one else will see the text? -- is in part answered.

If Kahlo's diary is understood as an journal intime, then the roughly fifty-five self-portraits Kahlo painted (nearly a third of her entire oeuvre), which were intended for public consumption, may be seen as constituting "autobiography." In the self-portraits painted with forethought, Kahlo carefully constructs herself in a variety of settings, creating an artistic persona with an audience in mind. The paintings are provocative and aggressively audacious both in subject matter and in intent. Before Kahlo, Western art was unused to images of birthing or miscarriage, double self-portraits with visible internal organs or cross-dressing, as subjects for "high" art.

No one questions the capacity of a self-portrait by Rembrandt to convey the anguish of an aging artist facing mortality or the power of one by Van Gogh to express the torment of an isolated and misunderstood artist. Such feelings are considered applicable to all "mankind." Kahlo, too, painted her own psychic states of mind in a flamboyant and sometimes irreverent manner, but her work was deemed so excessively personal and self-referential that it was thought incapable of expressing universal emotions or the human condition. In time, her self-portraits, though they never cease to shock, have overcome some of the prejudices against women painting their own lives.

Yet there is an uncanny restraint evident in Kahlo's self-portraits, a false honesty, an omission in almost every one. She referred to herself as "la gran ocultadora" ("the great concealer"; plate 125), and the masklike features of her visage in many of the self-portraits are a manifestation of this very self-control. "Pure" revelation was further impeded by the fact that Kahlo was a slow painter and her canvases were mediated by time and contemplation. In contrast, her journal entries -- the written passages as well as the drawings convey the immediacy of firsthand sensations transcribed and recorded, a disclosure lacking in her paintings.

The fact that Kahlo included artwork in her diary makes it almost unique among journaux intimes. Yet it differs from the typical artist's sketchbook, which is usually a place for preparatory drawings or working out solutions in a small format to be applied to large works. Only once did Kahlo transform an ink drawing from the diary into a full-scale painting (plate 73). And unlike the classic intimate journalist, Kahlo is inattentive to day-to-day goings-on, and uses her journal (as did Virginia Woolf) as a repository for feelings (and images) that do not fit anywhere else. Thus, these pages must be approached with some trepidation; the portrait Kahlo paints here, with color and lines, with prose and poetry, is an image of the artist unmasked.


Kahlo began her diary in the mid 1940s, when she was thirty-six or thirty-seven. Her recent emotional life had been extraordinarily turbulent. Her father had died a few years earlier; she had been divorced from Diego Rivera in late 1939 and remarried him a year later. Kahlo had come to the unavoidable conclusion that she would never bear the child she longed to have, and was plagued by her inadequacy. She had undergone numerous medical and surgical interventions, for miscarriages and spinal problems. As she approached the age of forty, she could no longer ignore the signs that her health was deteriorating.

Much of the trauma Kahlo experienced she used in the formulation of her art. By 1944, she had produced about one hundred paintings, and she had met with a number of successes in her artistic career. In the early thirties, she traveled with Rivera to the United States, where her work was first exhibited at a public institution. In 1937, four of her paintings were included in a group show in Mexico City. Kahlo's decisive shift from amateur to professional painter, however, came in 1938, when she sold her first paintings (four to film star Edward G. Robinson) and showed twenty-five works at the Julien Levy Gallery, in New York. Levy's interest in Kahlo coincided with his abiding preoccupation with Surrealism, and subsequently, she came to be seen as a Surrealist artist. This association was cemented by her association with Andre Breton, self-proclaimed "Pope of Surrealism," who came to Mexico in early 1938. He wrote an important essay on Kahlo's work for the Levy exhibition, and arranged for a show in Paris in March 1939. Breton also had a hand in the organization of the International Exhibition of Surrealism in Mexico in 1940, in which Kahlo showed her two largest canvases.

The guiding principle behind the Surrealist impulse that emerged in France in 1924 was rebellion, a revolt against all conventions, and in their place, the privileging of the supernatural, the antisocial, the international, and most important, the irrational. Kahlo's association with Surrealism as a movement, and with Breton as her supporter, is ambiguous, in large measure because of Breton's compulsive need to arbitrate what exactly might be considered Surrealism -- ironic in light of his movement's anarchic founding ideas. Kahlo was unmoved by Breton's charismatic self-importance, in part because of the predominantly intellectual and abstract cast of his notions. While Breton was inspired by what was alien to the rational world of the white European male -- madness, women, the exotic Kahlo's creative impulse came from her own concrete reality.

Kahlo's paintings, her public work, shared with Surrealism a number of characteristics: an interest in the unconscious; disquieting, often inchoate imagery; and unorthodox subject matter, all traits of the second phase of French Surrealism, when the imagists, such as Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte, and Yves Tanguy, were ascendant. Their work generally relied on realism, however distorted, and on spatial constructions called "landscapes of the mind."

Paradoxically, Kahlo's diary has more affinity to the tenets of the first Manifesto of Surrealism, in which psychic automatism or automatic drawing was used to bypass the rational mind and unlock the unconscious. This concept derived from Breton's reading of Freud's analysis of dreams and dreamwork, and among the artists who subscribed to this practice were Max Ernst, Andre Masson, and Joan Miro.

Nearly every drawing in Kahlo's diary is spontaneous and unplanned. Kahlo's automatic drawings were springboards to images that lurked in her unconscious, visions she teased out and then elaborated. After allowing herself the freedom to doodle, Kahlo put (at least part of) her rational mind to work, and from her vast lexicon of images, real and imagined, her biomorphic forms developed into faces, body parts, animals, and landscapes. Her visual sources were extensive: she was a voracious reader, a habit fed during the many periods when she was bedridden.

Kahlo relished the element of chance in these drawings, and she coaxed a number of figures from ink spots, stains resulting from deliberately spilled and splattered ink, some pressed onto the opposite page, others so thick they soaked through to the next sheet of paper (plates 33-3) and 61- 2, for example). She used a variety of mediums -- colored pencils, inks and washes, crayons and Contes, and gouache -- and her choice at any one point also influenced her imagery. Although the most obvious case is Kahlo's list of colors and their meanings (plate 15), throughout the diary, Kahlo let the utensil she picked up dictate to her.

Adding to the sense of serendipity in many of the images are the caption-like remarks Kahlo often added, comments that express her own surprise at the final outcome: "The unforeseen phenomenon" (plate 42) she titles one page, and "Who is this idiot?" (plate 81) she questions another. Indeed, rarely do the texts that accompany the drawings illuminate their significance; rather, they are ruminations that are as evocative and complex as the images.


That Kahlo's diary is at all decipherable is a measure, not of her desire to communicate, but of an almost obsessive return to a handful of themes. One, of course, is Kahlo's devotion to and love for Rivera, as evidenced by long, ardent love letters and the many pages that bear dedications to him. She expresses myriad emotions, from her sexual desire to a maternal nurturing to a mystical account of their union. Kahlo is endlessly inventive in her casting of their roles in their complementary and symbiotic relationship. Among the most interesting is her envisioning of their connection through art: in several passages she refers to "auxocromo" and "cromoforo," "the yin and yang of color. He, auxocromo, captures color; she, cromoforo, gives color. Rivera is ever- present in the journal.

Throughout Kahlo refers to elements of Mexican culture that date back to a Pre-Columbian origin. Traces of the Pre-Conquest culture turn up in her modern world, for example, in Kahlo's habitual wearing of indigenous costume and braiding her hair with brightly colored wool cords or fabrics into a headdress known as a tlacoyal. Kahlo made an even more direct connection with her past by adorning herself with rings, necklaces, and earrings of gold, jadeite, beads, and shells, many of which incorporated Aztec symbols or glyphs. In much the same way, Kahlo's journal is sprinkled with words from Nahuatl, the Aztec language; many such words have made their way into everyday Mexican vocabulary (plates 26 and 117).

Kahlo also saw herself as heir to an incredibly rich source of fantastic imagery through her Mexican ancestry, less strictly biological and more cultural. The civilizations of the Olmecs, Aztecs, and Toltecs, as appropriated, reformulated, and even idealized by Kahlo, composed her personal past. The gods and myths, the figurines and codices, the pyramids and temples of the ancients provided her with a genealogy that linked her with the greatness of Mexico, as it did for many of her peers. Her response to ancient Mexico was quite different from that of the European Surrealists, who sought "unfamiliar" myths and artifacts to help revitalize their art. The invocation of Aztec civilization reverberated as political gesture at a time when the growing interest in indigenous art coincided with a keener sense of nationalism.

The double-page spread on plates 114-15 makes the connection between politics and the ancient roots of Mexican culture clear. Kahlo pairs the symbols of Communism with those of the Aztecs, and calls attention to her politics and her commitment to social causes. Kahlo had been sympathetic with Communism since her youth: she joined the Young Communist League in 1927, when she was twenty, and throughout her life threw her support behind causes which were sponsored by the Party. She claimed to have read widely in its literature and to have a clear grasp of dialectical materialism. But by the mid-forties Kahlo's interest in Communism moved beyond social conscience and became an epistemological, perhaps even religious, search for "pillars" that could support her faith. Her thousand-year Mexican heritage offered solace. By combining Communism with this conviction, Kahlo fashioned an ideal that was uncomplicated by the realities of the two regimes, for neither the bloodthirsty, class-divided aspects of the Aztecs, nor the authoritative, regimented practices of Stalin are considered. Kahlo distills and purifies her vision of her two faiths, honoring them as idealized powers that gave her strength, especially as she saw her life drawing to an end.


Kahlo kept this diary for the last ten years of her life, and it documents her physical decline. Dated pages are sporadic, and thus it is difficult to discern the chronology. But an awful progression -- regression -- is unmistakable, as Kahlo faces the loneliness and terror of her illnesses. Even as a child, she was familiar with the role of patient. She contracted polio when she was seven years old; eleven years later she had a near-fatal accident and suffered a broken spine, collar and pelvic bones, crushed right leg and foot. Kahlo's chronic pain, however, and her encasement in orthopedic corsets and plaster casts for months at a time, the trophic ulcers she suffered on her right foot (which led to its amputation shortly before her death), and the roughly thirty-five operations she is said to have undergone may have been caused by a congenital malformation of her spine, a condition called spina bifida. [l] Her diary chronicles her quest for cures, her resigning herself to the dictates of her medical advisers, and her often stoic response to their failures.

Part of Kahlo's preoccupation with the details of her infirmities springs from her youthful interest in physiology and biology. Before her fateful accident, Kahlo was taking science courses as prerequisites for becoming a doctor; even as she convalesced, the thought of combining her interest in art and science by becoming a scientific illustrator came to her. Indeed, these studies provided Kahlo with potent visual analogies and metaphors, which she marshaled in her paintings and used throughout her diary: internal organs and processes were often seen outside her body, while she used x-ray vision to picture her broken bones and spine. Of all her biological and botanical metaphors, Kahlo made the most effective use of roots and veins, tendrils and nerves, all routes for transmitting nourishment or pain.

Despite the pain and anguish Kahlo freely and openly expressed in her diary, her unquenchable thirst for life reveals itself. Her wit and alegria, her sense of irony and black humor all emerge here. "She had invented her own language, her own way of speaking Spanish, full of vitality and accompanied by gestures, mimicry, laughter, jokes, and a great sense of irony," a student of hers recalled. [2] The self-portrait we find in the diary makes more human "la gran ocultadora" of her paintings, and replaces the implacable mask with intimate -- at times horrifying details of affliction and despair. But Kahlo also shows her great strength, the resolve only intense suffering confers. "Anguish and pain," she writes, "pleasure and death are no more than a process" (plates 77-78). Kahlo's diary dramatically and explicitly conveys this process, and is a testimony to her vigilant recording, in words and pictures, of her inexorable path toward death.



1. Herrera, Frlda Kahlo: The Paintings: 36-37.

2. Herrera, Frida: A Biography: 329.
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Re: The Diary of Frida Kahlo, An Intimate Self-Portrait

Postby admin » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:29 am



Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderon is born on July 6 to Matilde Calderon y Gonzalez, a Catholic mestiza, and Guillermo Kahlo, photographer, a Jew of German-Austro-Hungarian descent, in Coyoacan, then on the outskirts of Mexico City; in later life she celebrated on July 7

The Mexican Revolution breaks out; Kahlo claims it as the year of her birth

Kahlo contracts polio

The Mexican mural movement begins; the government sponsors murals to be painted in churches, schools, libraries, public buildings
Kahlo commutes to Mexico City to begin classes at the National Preparatory School, a state-run postsecondary school; her program of study is designed with medical school in mind
Kahlo makes the acquaintance of Diego Rjvera who is painting a mural at her school

Kahlo apprentices with the commercial printer Fernando Fernandez, a friend of her father's Returning home from school on September 17, Kahlo is in a bus accident: she sustains a broken pelvic bone, spinal column, and other severe injuries. During her convalescence, she begins to paint

Paints Self-Portrait wearing a Velvet Dress, the first of many self-portraits

Joins Young Communist League

Rivera paints Kahlo in his fresco Distribution of Arms at the Ministry of Education

Six weeks after her twenty-second birthday, Kahlo marries Rivera
Rivera is expelled from the Communist Party after accepting a commission from the Mexican government
In January, Kahlo and Rivera move to Cuernavaca, where Rivera has a commission to paint murals for the American ambassador, Dwight W. Morrow, at the Palace of Cortes
In November, the couple leaves Mexico for a three-year sojourn in the U.S. They first visit San Francisco, where Kahlo meets photographers Imogen Cunningham and Edward Weston; art patron Albert Bender; and Dr. Leo Eloesser, who would become her lifelong friend and medical adviser

In June, Kahlo and Rivera return to Mexico for five months; in November, they sail to New York. Kahlo's Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera is shown at the "Sixth Annual Exhibition of the San Francisco Society of Women Artists" -- the first public showing of her work
On December 22, Rivera's retrospective opens at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Kahlo meets Georgia O'Keeffe

In April, Kahlo and Rivera travel to Detroit, where he has a commission from the Ford Motor Company to paint a mural at the Detroit Institute of Arts
Early in July, Kahlo miscarries; spends thirteen days in the Henry Ford Hospital. In September, Kahlo and Lucienne Bloch travel to Mexico, where Kahlo's mother is ill. Matilde Calder6n y Gonzalez dies on September 14; Kahlo and Bloch return to Detroit in October

In March, Kahlo and Rivera arrive in New York City, where he has agreed to paint a mural at Rockefeller Center
On May 9, Rivera's Rockefeller Center commission is rescinded because of his use of Lenin's portrait. Four days later General Motors cancels his Chicago World's Fair commission. In June, Rivera accepts a mural commission for the New Worker's School
In December, they return to Mexico and move into the double house in San Angel designed for them by Juan O'Gorman

Kahlo undergoes an appendectomy, an abortion, and an operation on her foot
During the summer, the couple separates after Kahlo discovers that Rivera is having an affair with her sister Cristina

Kahlo moves into an apartment on Avenida Insurgentes in central Mexico City; in July, she travels to New York with Anita Brenner; by the end of the year, she returns to the house in San Angel
Kahlo meets sculptor Isamu Noguchi, in Mexico on a Guggenheim Fellowship. He creates a concrete mural in relief at the newly renovated Mercado Rodriguez. Kahlo and Noguchi have an affair

The Spanish Civil War breaks out in July; Kahlo and Rivera work on behalf of the Republicans, raising money for Mexicans fighting against Franco's forces
Rivera joins the Mexican section of the Trotskyite International Communist League in September
For two years, Rivera is plagued with eye and kidney problems, which require hospitalization and extended bed rest

In January, Leon Trotsky arrives in Mexico, where he has been granted political asylum, largely through Rivera's intervention. He and his wife, Natalia, live for a time in Kahlo's Blue House, in Coyoacan; Kahlo and Trotsky become close for a few months
Four of Kahlo's paintings are included in a group exhibition at the Galeria de Arte at the National Autonomous University of Mexico

In April, poet Andre Breton and his wife, the painter Jacqueline Lamba, visit Mexico; Rivera, Breton, and Trotsky publish "Toward an Independent Revolutionary Art" in the Partisan Review
Actor Edward G. Robinson purchases four paintings by Kahlo; this her first major sale
Kahlo meets Hungarian-born Nickolas Muray, a well-known photographer visiting Mexico from New York
Kahlo travels to New York in October for her exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery; begins an affair with Muray
November 1-15 : Twenty-five of Kahlo's paintings are exhibited at the Julien Levy Gallery, New York; Andre Breton writes the catalogue preface

Early in the year Rivera resigns from the IV International after differences with Trotsky; Trotsky and his wife move out of the Blue House
Kahlo sails to France in January; stays with the Bretons in Paris, where he has promised her a show. After she is hospitalized for a kidney inflammation, she moves into the apartment of Mary Reynolds, a close friend of Marcel Duchamp. She meets Kandinsky and Picasso and many in Breton's Surrealist circle, including Max Ernst, Paul Eluard, Joan Miro, Yves Tanguy, and Wolfgang Paalen
Marcel Duchamp helps arrange her exhibition, which is called "Mexique." It opens at the Galerie Renou & Colle on March 10 and includes the work of photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo and Breton's own collection of Mexican popular art
On March 25 Kahlo sails to New York; breaks with Muray and returns to Mexico in April
During the summer, Kahlo and Rivera separate; she moves into the Blue House
In the autumn, Kahlo suffers from a fungus infection on her hands and experiences severe pain in her spine; Dr. Juan Farill prescribes bed rest and traction. Emotional and physical pain drive her to drink copious quantities of brandy
In December, her divorce from Rivera is finalized

Kahlo's reputation as an artist burgeons; in January, her two largest canvases, The Two Fridas and the now-lost The Wounded Table, are included in the "International Exhibition of Surrealism" organized by Breton and Paalen, at the Galeria de Arte Mexicano; exhibits work in "Contemporary Mexican Painting and Graphic Art," at the Palace of Fine Art, San Francisco, and in "Twenty Centuries of Mexican Art," at The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Kahlo applies for a Guggenheim Foundation grant; among her supporters are Meyer Schapiro, Duchamp, Breton, Walter Pach, and Rivera; she does not receive the funding
An unsuccessful attempt is made on Trotsky's life in May by, among others, the muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros; Rivera, wanted for questioning, goes into hiding, then travels to San Francisco
On August 20, Trotsky is assassinated; Kahlo's past association with him and Rivera's public rift provoke the police to hold her for two days' questioning
Kahlo travels to San Francisco in September to see Dr. Leo Eloesser, who rejects the Mexican doctors' recommendation for surgery. His tests of Kahlo reveal a severe kidney infection and anemia. Meets Heinz Berggruen and begins a brief affair with him; they travel to New York where Kahlo tries to arrange for another (unrealized) exhibition at the Levy Gallery
Returns to San Francisco; reconciles with Rivera, and on December 8, his fifty-fourth birthday, they remarry. Kahlo departs for Mexico before the end of the year

In February, no longer under suspicion, Rivera returns to Mexico, joined by his California assistant, Emmy Lou Packard; he lives in Coyoacan with Kahlo, using the San Angel house as a studio
Three months betore Kahlo's thirty-fourth birthday, her father dies; Kahlo suffers depression which exacerbates her ill health
Kahlo is one of twenty-five artists and intellectuals chosen by the Ministry of Education to be founders of the Seminar of Mexican Culture
Kahlo is included in the exhibition "Modern Mexican Painters," at the Institute of Modern Art, Boston

Construction begins on Anahuacalli, a museum to hold Rivera's collection of Pre-Columbian artifacts; Kahlo raises funds for it by selling her apartment and by writing to government officials for public support
Kahlo's work is included in two New York exhibitions: "20th-Century Portraits," at The Museum of Modern Art, and "First Papers of Surrealism," sponsored by the Coordinating Council of French Relief Societies

In January, Kahlo is included in "Exhibition by 31 Women," at Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century Gallery, New York
Kahlo joins the faculty of the Education Ministry's School of Painting and Sculpture known as "La Esmeralda." She remains affiliated as a painting instructor for a decade, but poor health prevents her from traveling to Mexico City; she holds classes in her Coyoacan home. Eventually only four students come regularly: Fanny Rabel, Arturo Garcia Bustos, Guillermo Monroy, and Arturo Estrada. They become known as "Los Fridos"

Kahlo's physical decline becomes more acute over the next few years; she undergoes spinal taps, confinement in a series of corsets, and several radical operations on her back and leg over the next decade
Kahlo begins a diary, which she will keep until her death
She reduces her teaching schedule but remains committed to her students; over the next few years she finds commissions, apprenticeships, and exhibitions for Los Fridos

After reading Freud's Moses and Monotheism, Kahlo paints her ideas about it. During this and the previous year, Lola Alvarez Bravo takes a series of photographs of Kahlo

The Ministry of Education awards Kahlo the National Prize of Arts and Sciences
Kahlo begins an affair with a Spanish refugee, which lasts until 1952
In June, Kahlo undergoes a bone-graft operation in New York. She returns to Mexico in October; large doses of morphine are prescribed for her pain

In March, Rivera is hospitalized with bronchial pneumonia
On July 6, Kahlo turns forty years old (though she celebrates it as her thirty-seventh birthday)

At Rivera's request, Kahlo reapplies to the Communist Party; her membership is approved. Rivera is not accepted back until 1954
Rivera has a public two-year affair with actress Maria Felix

Kahlo's "Portrait of Diego" is published as the introduction to his fifty-year retrospective held at the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City
Gangrene is apparent on Kahlo's right foot

During the course of the year, Kahlo has six operations on her spine, her hospitalization due in part to a severe infection in her bone grafts She spends most of the year in the hospital; most nights Rivera sleeps in a room next to hers. When well enough, she paints

Kahlo is confined to a wheelchair; full-time nurses are hired to care for her and give her injections of pain killers

Kahlo begins a series of still-life paintings; she produces thirteen over the next two years

Kahlo's first one-person exhibition opens in April, at Lola Alvarez Bravo's Galeria de Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City
In August, Kahlo's gangrenous right leg is amputated

On July 2, Kahlo and Rivera attend a demonstration protesting the United States CIA's intervention in Guatemala
Frida Kahlo dies July 13; cause of death is officially reported as "pulmonary embolism," but suicide is suspected

Rivera is diagnosed with cancer; he marries his art dealer Emma Hurtado. He puts Anahuacalli and Kahlo's Coyoacan home in trust as public art museums

Diego Rivera dies of heart failure
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Re: The Diary of Frida Kahlo, An Intimate Self-Portrait

Postby admin » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:42 am


Painted 1916

no moon, sun, diamond, hands --
fingertip, dot, ray, gauze, sea.
pine green, pink glass, eye,
mine, eraser, mud, mother, I am coming.
= yellow love, fingers, useful
child, flower, wish, artifice, resin,
pasture, bismuth, saint, soup tureen.
segment, year, tin, another foal.
point, machine, stream, I am,
methylene, joke, cancer, laughter,
warble - glance - neck, vine
black hair silk girl wind =
father grief pirate saliva
hay clamp consumption lively
wave - ray - earth -red - I am,
April, 30th.
child-rennet, his, king, black radio --
poplar destiny I search - hands today.
Elm tree. Olmedo. Violet. canary
buzzing - stoning - whiteness of gray
road - silhouette - tenderness
ballad - gangrene - Petrarch
sunflower - sinzister blues. acute
rosemary - circumlocutions - garbage - yesterday
lap -tumbling - I draw close
visions - illusive - sleeping - pillar.

friendly columns - murmurs of glass
abuses - nearby - lies - passion.
Arcane - thousands - money - vigor,
overlapping conscience - prostitute palm
the strength - marine - hunchback control
looks I say - withered lair
mikado - martyrdom - senile gurgle
= square bright star seized,
at russet dawn - at the green lie -
landslide nasal without pleasure seat.
first - decimated - pompous
bitter precocious -- beautiful infamies
rotund orange throat
what a thing. graveyard.
moonlit hailstones singing
brilliant gesture
alert - padlock - roman
fiery. little box
he painted it. killer.
child - little child - brat
my leaden heart
graceful snowfall - airplane bubble
I was lying - flaccid - running- revelry
without story reason.
great haste mirrorlike
cardboard doll

Acute portraits with tender emotion.
searching - laughing - dark skinned - button
gerund Gerona
German sparrow
tawny throat
delighted passion.

Bee - fondness - perfume - cord
crumb- fool's gold - jumping voyeur
soldier ease - solstice strip.
purple quadrant - open gown.
microned matter
martyrdom quince
grapeshot micron.

Branches, seas, bitterly went
into the faraway eyes. Ursas
majors. voice ... hushed. life. Flower.

May 2nd. May 4th. May 7th.
He doesn't see the color. He has the color.
I make the shape. He doesn't look at it.
He doesn't give the life he has.
He has life.
Warm and white is his voice.
He stayed but never arrived.
I'm leaving.

Truth is, so great, that I
wouldn't like to speak, or sleep,
or listen, or love.
To feel myself trapped, with no fear
of blood, outside time and mag-
ic, within your own fear,
and your great anguish, and
within the very beating of your heart.
All this madness, if I asked it of you,
I know, in your silence, there would be
only confusion.
I ask you for violence, in the nonsense,
and you, you give me grace, your light and
your warmth.
I'd like to paint you, but there are no col-
ors, because there are so many, in my
confusion, the tangible form
of my great love.
Today Diego kissed me. [Marked out]
Every moment, he is my child.
my newborn babe, every little while,
every day, of my own self.

Passing through ostentatiously
Business heap,
Had I a curtain
dark print
noisy mocker
winged with motors
extra brilliance
dancing silhouette
suffering singing
shaded planted
subtle sting
veiled color of
the same cloudy yellow sky
bound looseness
mission of the wind
maraca strip
curious morning
bird lemon.
dark shroud
tumbling rubbish
singing footsteps
stolen on the wing
returned great birdsong,
antique garments
the coarse cells
of the heart.

Passing through ostentatiously
business heap
Had I a curtain
dark print
noisy mocker
winged with motors
extra brilliance
dancing silhouette
suffering singing

subtle sting


Since you wrote to me, on that clear,
distant day, I have wanted to ex-
plain to you, that I can't get away from the
days, or return in time to that other
time. I have not forgotten you -- the
nights are long and difficult.
The water. The ship and the dock and
the parting which made you appear
so small, to my eyes,
framed in that round port-
hole, and you gazing at me so as
to keep me in your heart.
Everything is untouched. Later,
came the days, new of you.
Today, I wish my sun could touch
you. I tell you, your eyeball is
my eyeball, the puppet characters
all arranged in their large glass
room, belong to us both.
Yours is the huipil with magenta
ribbons. Mine the ancient
squares of your Paris, above all,
the magnificent -- [Place] des Vosges.
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Re: The Diary of Frida Kahlo, An Intimate Self-Portrait

Postby admin » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:42 am

so forgotten and so firm.
Snail shells and the bride-doll,
is yours too - I mean, it is you.
Her dress, is the same one she
wouldn't take off on the day of the wed-
ding to no-one, when we found her
half asleep on the
dirty sidewalk of some street.
My skirts with their lace flounces
and the antique blouse I always
wore xxxxxxxxx paint
the absent portrait of
only one person. But the color of
your skin, of your eyes and your hair
change with the winds in Mex-
ico. The death of the old man [crossed out]
pained us so much that [crossed out]
we talked and spent that day together, [crossed out]
You too know that all
my eyes see, all
I touch with myself, from
any distance, is
Diego. The caress of
fabrics, the color of colors, the

wires, the nerves, the pencils,
the leaves, the dust, the cells,
the war and the sun, everything
experienced in the minutes of the
non-clocks and the non-calendars
and the empty non-glances,
is him. You felt it, that's why
you let that ship take me away
from Le Havre where you never
said good-bye to me.
I will write to you with my eyes,
always. Kiss xxxxxx the little girl ...

Numbers, the economy
the farce of words,
nerves are blue.
I don't know why - also red,
but full of color.
Through the round numbers
and the colored nerves
the stars are made
and the worlds are sounds.
I would not wish to harbor
the slightest hope,
everything moves to the beat
of what's enclosed in the belly

I'll try out the pencils
sharpened to the point of infinity
which always sees ahead:
Green - good warm light
Magenta - Aztec. old TLAPALI
blood of prickly pear, the
brightest and oldest
color of mole, of leaves becoming
madness sickness fear
part of the sun and of happiness
electricity and purity love
nothing is black - really nothing

leaves, sadness, science, the whole
of Germany is this color
more madness and mystery
all the ghosts wear
clothes of this color, or at
least their underclothes
color of bad advertisements
and of good business
distance. Tenderness
can also be this blue

Well, who knows!

Und der Heifisch er hat zahne
und die tragt er ihm gesicht
und Macky hat ein messer
doch das messer siht man nicht.
Saint Francis of Assisi
Und der Heifisch er hat zahne
und die tragt er ihm gesicht
und Macky hat ein messer
doch das messer siht man
Und der Heifisch er hat zahne
und die tragt er
ihm gesicht und der
Macky hat ein messer
doch das messer siht
man nicht.
Mexico. Coyoacan.
Paris. New York.


And the shark has teeth
And he wears them in his face
And Macky, he has a knife.
But the knife one does not see.

Nothing compares to your hands
nothing like the green-gold of
your eyes. My body is filled
with you for days and days. you are
the mirror of the night. the vio-
lent flash of lightning. the
dampness of the earth. The
hollow of your armpits is my
shelter, my fingertips touch
your blood. All my joy
is to feel life spring from
your flower-fountain that mine
keeps to fill all
the paths of my nerves
which are yours.


Leaves. blades. cupboards, sparrow
I sell it all for nothing. I do not believe
in illusion. You smoke terrible.
smoke. Marx. life. the great
joker. nothing has a name.
I don't look at shapes. the paper
love. wars. tangled hair. pitchers.
claws. submerged spiders. lives
in alcohol. children are the days and
here it stopped.

It is coming. my hand. my red
vision. larger. more his.
martyrdom of glass. the great
nonsense. Columns and valleys.
fingers of the wind. the bleeding
children. the mica micron.
I don't know what my mocking
dream thinks. The ink, the stain,
the shape. the color. I'm a
bird. I'm everything. without any more
confusion. All the bells.
the rules. the lands. the
big grove, the greatest
tenderness. the immense tide.
garbage. water jar, cardboard
cards. dice digits duets
vain hope of con-
structing the cloths. the kings.
so silly. my nails. the
thread and the hair. the bantering nerve
I'm going with myself. one ab-
sent minute. I have stolen you and
I leave weeping. I'm just kidding.

Auxochrone - Chromophore. Diego.
She who wears the color.
He who sees the color.
Since the year 1922
Until always and forever. No in
1944. After all the
hours lived through. The vectors
continue in their original direction.
Nothing stops them. With no more
knowledge than live emo-
tion. With no other wish than to go on
until they meet. Slowly.
With great unease, but with
the certainty that all is guided by
the "golden section." There is
cellular arrangement. There is
movement. There is light. All
centers are the same.
Folly doesn't exist. We are the
same as we were and as we will
be. Not counting on idiotic destiny.

My Diego:
Mirror of the night.
Your eyes green swords inside
my flesh. waves between
our hands.
All of you in a space full of
sounds - in the shade and in the
light. You were called AUXO-
CHROME the one who captures color. I
CHROMOPHORE - the one who gives color.
You are all the combinations
of numbers. life.
My wish is to understand lines
form shades move-
ment. You fulfill and I receive.
Your word travels the entirety of
space and reaches my cells
which are my stars then goes to
yours which are my light.


Auxochrome - Chromophore
It was the thirst of many years re-
strained in our body. Chained
words which we could not
say except on the lips of dreams.
Everything was surrounded by the green mir-
acle of the landscape of your body.
Upon your form, the lashes of the
flowers responded to my touch, the murmur
of streams. There was all manner of fruits
in the juice of your lips, the blood
of the pomegranate, the horizon
of the mammee and the purified pineapple.
I pressed you against my breast
and the prodigy of your form pen-
etrated all my blood through
the tips of my fingers. Smell
of oak essence, memo-
ries of walnut, green breath
of ash tree. Horizon and land-
scapes = I traced them with a kiss.
Oblivion of words will form
the exact language for

understanding the glances of
our closed eyes.
= You are here, intangible
and you are all the universe which
I shape into the space of my
room. Your absence springs
trembling in the ticking of the
clock, in the pulse of light;
you breathe through the mirror. From
you to my hands, I caress
your entire body, and I am with
you for a minute and I am with
myself for a moment. And my
blood is the miracle which
runs in the vessels of the air
from my heart to yours.
WOMAN xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
MAN. xxxxxxxxxxxx
The green miracle of the landscape
of my body becomes in you the
whole of nature. I fly

through it to caress the rounded
hills with my fingertips,
my hands sink into the
shadowy valleys in an urge to
possess and I'm enveloped in the embrace
of gentle branches, green
and cool. I penetrate the sex of
the whole earth, her heat
chars me and my entire body
is rubbed by the freshness of the ten-
der leaves. Their dew is the sweat
of an ever-new lover.
It's not love, or tenderness, or
affection, it's life itself, my
life, that I found when I saw it
in your hands, in your mouth and
in your breasts. I have the taste of
almonds from your lips in my
mouth. Our worlds have
never gone outside. Only one
mountain can know the core of
another mountain.
Your presence floats for a moment or two

as if wrapping my whole
being in an anxious wait
for the morning. I notice that I'm
with you. At that instant
still full of sensations,
my hands are sunk
in oranges, and my body
feels surrounded by your
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Re: The Diary of Frida Kahlo, An Intimate Self-Portrait

Postby admin » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:43 am

For my Diego
the silent life giver
of worlds, what is most
important is the nonillusion.
morning breaks, the
friendly reds, the big
blues, hands full of leaves,
noisy birds, fingers
in the hair, pigeons' nests
a rare understanding of
human struggle simplicity
of the senseless song
the folly of the wind in my
heart = don't let them rhyme girl
= sweet xocolatl [chocolate] of ancient
Mexico, storm in the
blood that comes in through the
mouth - convulsion, omen,
laughter and sheer teeth needles
of pearl, for some gift on a seventh of July, I
ask for it, I get it, I sing,
sang, I'll sing from
now on our magic - love.

JULY 13, 1945

Adalgisa [female chieftain] - augurio [augury] - aliento [breath]
aroma - amor [love] - antena - ave [bird]
abismo [abyss] - altura [height] - amiga [friend] - azul [blue]
arena [sand] - alambre [wire] - antigua [ancient]
astro [heavenly body] - axila [armpit] - abierta [open] - amarillo [yellow]
alegria [joy] - Almizcle [musk] - Alucema
Armonia [harmony] - America - Amada [loved one]
agua [water] - Ahora [now] - Aire [air] - Ancla [anchor]
"Artista [artist] - acacia - asombro [amazement] - asi [thus]
aviso [notice] - agata [agate] - ayer [yesterday] - aurea [golden]
alba [dawn] - apostol [aspotle] - arbol [tree] - atar [to tie]
ara [altar] - alta - [tall] - acierto [hit] - abeja [bee]
arca [coffer] - airosa [graceful] - arma [weapon] - alla [there]
amargura [bitternness]

. _____ . _____ .
OF THIS UNION [crossed out]

Portrait of Neferunico.
Founder of Lokura.




strange animal

real world

dance to the sun


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Re: The Diary of Frida Kahlo, An Intimate Self-Portrait

Postby admin » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:43 am


[The Dancers]


I am

The phenomenon





Who would say that stains
live and help one to live?
Ink, blood, odor.
I don't know what ink he would use
so eager to leave his mark
in such a way. I respect his
entreaty and I'll do what
I can to escape from
my world.

inky worlds - a free
land and mine. distant suns
that call to me because
I am part of their nuclei.
Rubbish. What would I do
without the absurd and the ephemeral?
1953 for many years I have understood
dialectical materialism.

The one who gave birth to herself
who wrote me the
most marvelous poem
of her whole life

I'd ... give
I love Diego and no one else

How ugly "people" are!
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Re: The Diary of Frida Kahlo, An Intimate Self-Portrait

Postby admin » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:43 am


two. it's no use.
moon ... dreadful
and alone banal ... isn't it?
superficial - don't you think?
I desire clearly

break it!

You understand everything. The ultimate
union. You suffer rejoice love
rage kiss laugh. We were born for
the same thing. To discover and
love what has been discovered. hidden.
With the grief of always losing it.
You are beautiful. I endow you with your
beauty. Soft in your immense sad-
ness. Simple bitterness. Arms you
against everything that does not free you.
Rebellion against everything that chains you.
You love. Love me as the center.
Me as yourself. It won't achieve
a prodigious memory of you
passing through my life scattering
jewels I'll only collect after
you've gone. There is no
distance. Only time. Listen to me
caress me with what you're looking for and
with what you search. I'm going to you and
to me. Like all the whole songs seen.


Today Wednesday 22 of January 1947
You rain on me - I sky you
You're the fineness, childhood,
life - my love - little boy - old man
mother and center - blue - tender-
ness - I hand you my
universe and you live me
It is you whom I love today.
= I love you with all my loves
I'll give you the forest
with a little house in it
with all the good things there are in
my construction, you'll live
joyfully - I want
you to live joyfully. Although
I always give you my
absurd solitude and the monot-
ony of a whole
diversity of loves -
Will you? Today I'm loving
the beginnings and you love
your mother.

A very still "still life"!

Nobody will ever know how much I love
Diego. I don't want anything
to hurt him. nothing to bother him
or to sap the energy that he needs
to live -
To live the way he feels
better. Painting, seeing,
loving, eating, sleeping, feel-
ing lonely, feeling accom-
panied - but I never want
him to be sad
and if I had my health
I'd like to give it all to him
if I had my youth
he could have it all
I'm not just your

I am the embryo, the
germ, the first
cell which = poten-
tially = engendered him
- I am him from the
most primitive ... and
the most ancient
cells, that with
time be-
came him
what do the "sci- [marked out]
entists" say about this? [marked out]

= sense =
fortunately, the
words kept form-
ing -----------
Who gave them the
absolute "truth"?
There is nothing absolute
Everything changes, everything
moves, everything re-
volves - everything
flies and goes away.

Diego beginning
Diego builder
Diego my child
Diego my boyfriend
Diego painter
Diego my lover
Diego "my husband"
Diego my friend
Diego my mother
Diego my father
Diego my son
Diego = me =
Diego Universe
Diversity within unity.

Why do I call him my Diego?
He never was or will be mine.
He belongs to himself.
giving out ...

Polar landscape

Dogs playing with thread.
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Re: The Diary of Frida Kahlo, An Intimate Self-Portrait

Postby admin » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:43 am

The horrible
animal, which
dropped dead
to link up
the sciences.
It looks up ...
and has no name.
- We'll give it one:

Astonished she remained seeing
the sun-stars
and the live-dead world
and being in the

Footprints and sunprints

people? skirts?

The "classic" "love" .............
(without arrows)
just with spermato-

Center and one.
flower and fruit.

There is nothing more precious than laughter
["and scorn" - marked out] - It is strength to laugh
and lose oneself. to be ["cruel and" -- marked out]
Tragedy is the most
ridiculous thing "man" has
but I'm sure that
animals suffer,
and yet they do not exhibit their "pain"
in "theatres" neither open nor
"closed" (their "homes").
and their pain is more real
than any image
that any man can
"perform" xxx ["or feel" - marked out]
as painful. -----------

drop, knave, mote,
MYRTLE, SEX, broken,
LIQUOR firm hand
LOVE strong chair


Motion in dance.

the earth
Me and

the earth
Me and

of others, and they would all say:
poor thing! she's crazy.
(above all I'd laugh at my own stupidity)
I'd build my world
which while I lived,
would be = in agreement = with
all the worlds
The day, or the hour, or the
minute, that I lived
would be mine and
everyone else's -
My madness would not
be an escape from

why did the others
support me
with their labor?
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