Diego and Frida: A Smile at Halfway

Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo

Learn more about this famous couple's ups and downs through the collection of the Diego Rivera House-Studio Museum.

A Couple Like No Other
By following their work chronologically, we come to understand theit fascinating journey, as well as their similarities and contrasts as a couple. Today, they are more in vogue than ever before; icons of the Mexican identity and unconditional love.
Parallel Lives
Diego Rivera and his twin brother, Carlos, were born on December 8, 1886, although Carlos sadly died 18 months later. The tragedy would haunt the painter throughout his life; he depicted his brother in several of his murals, including "Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park."

He began studying at the Academy of San Carlos at a young age, and in 1905 he won a scholarship, allowing him to continue his training in Paris.

In 1907, Rivera was studying art in Spain; on July 6 of that year, Frida Kahlo was born in Mexico City, in the Blue House in Coyoacán.

In September 1910, Rivera decided to return to Mexico to display his work from his time in Europe, though soon after he returned to the Old Continent.

This is the year that Frida Kahlo decided would be the year of her "birth," having fully identified with the revolutionary ideals, and considering herself to be the daughter of the Mexican Revolution.

Diego returned to Mexico in 1921 and began work on a mural entitled "The Creation" in the Bolívar amphitheater within the National High School. Frida Kahlo joined this institution in 1922, and it was there that they met.

"Yo te cielo" (I sky you)
Six years later, Frida showed Diego her work, who offered the effusive encouragement: "Carry on, young lady. You have talent."  Their romance blossomed, and in 1929 the couple married. It was Kahlo's first marriage, but Rivera's third.

As well as having a mutual love for art, both were activists of the Mexican left.

The couple moved to the United States, having been invited to create murals in San Francisco, Detroit, and New York. In 1933, they painted a mural for the Rockefeller Center which included the image of Lenin. For that reason it was destroyed, and so they made the decision to return to Mexico.

On their return, they settled in the house-studio that the architect Juan O'Gorman had built for them in San Ángel. Diego's numerous affairs led the couple to divorce in 1935.

Following the split, Frida moved to a modern apartment in Insurgentes. However, it was not long until she returned to her beloved Diego. Nonetheless, the couple continued living apart: Rivera in San Ángel and Kahlo in Coyoacán.

During their time in the United States, portraits of this captivating couple were taken by artists such as Edward Weston and Nickolas Muray, with whom Frida had a passionate fling.

In 1937, they invited Leon Trotsky to stay with them in the Blue House in Coyoacán. Frida and Trotsky embarked upon a secret love affair, which hurt Rivera deeply, given his admiration for the communist leader. In 1938, Rivera and Kahlo struck up a close friendship with André Bretón, author of the Surrealist Manifesto, and his wife, the painter Jacqueline Lamba. The couple moved into the house-studio that Frida had originally occupied in San Ángel.

In 1940, Frida and Diego decided to remarry in San Francisco. On their return to Mexico, they lived in the Blue House in Coyoacán, while Diego commuted daily to the house-studio to continue his work.

From 1944 to 1954, Frida's health worsened and this took its toll on their already fragile relationship. In spite of her illness, she installed her only ever solo exhibition held during her lifetime, in the Contemporary Art Gallery.

On July 2, a convalescent Frida marched with Diego at the demonstration to protest against US intervention in Guatemala.

Eleven days later, on July 13, 1954, she died. Throughout her life she underwent more than 20 surgical interventions, the last being the amputation of her left leg.

Three years later, after battling cancer, Diego Rivera died in 1957.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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