The Paintings of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera - Mexico's greatest modern painters
Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera - husband and wife
Two of Mexico's greatest painters, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, were husband and wife, divorced and then husband and wife again; both times contentious marriages. They married in 1928 and were contemporary Mexican painters, and Rivera was crowned the greatest Mexican painter and muralist during his lifetime; however, Kahlo did not become famous in Mexico or the world until decades after her death in 1954.
Both Kahlo and Rivero had similar painting styles and content for their paintings. Each one was interested in the indigenous indian and Mexican people as subjects for their paintings. The Aztec indians were important subjects of their paintings because they represented the peoples and empires of Mexico's great past. Both were communists and believed in the prolitariat and the common man and worker as important to the culture and growth of Mexico. Therefore, their paintings highlighted the worker and presented his simple life as important and great to Mexico's past and its future. Both used simple strokes and bold colors to develop their own native styles.
Diego Rivera became famous and well-known for his mural paintings during the 1920's and 30's in Mexico and in the U.S. and was commissioned by the Mexican government to take part in a government sponsored Mexican mural program. His murals depict the worker man and native indigenous peoples and were painted on government buildings in Mexico City. He also has murals painted in Detroit and New York City.
Frida Kahlo is best known for the self-portraits she painted. At a young age, she was involved in a terrible bus and trolley car accident in downtown Mexico City, and her body was crushed and broken to pieces. It took years of convalescence and she turned to painting to help her through this difficult time.
Later in her life, the self-portraits she painted of herself became a dominate part of her life during her many periods of pain and immobility. She had back problems and difficulty walking the rest of her life as a result of the accident. During these times, her husband, Rivera, was very supportive of her art and paintings, but engaged in numerous love affairs. Kahlo retaliated by having love affairs of her own both heterosexual and homosexual. Her pain over these affairs came out in her paintings, even though Rivera recognized her talent and encouraged her artistic development. Because of all this, Rivera and Kahlo often lived apart.
Both artists believed it was important to exault Mexico's common man and peasants as Mexico's greatest treasure and to bring Mexico's culture to the forefront in their paintings. Finally, the world could see the importance of the Mexican common man and the Mexican culture as it was painted on canvas and presented on the world stage. At last, Mexico and Mexicans were getting the world recognition that they deserved through the important paintings of Rivera and Kahlo.
Although Rivera and Kahlo had a most tempestuous married relationship, they could not live without one another. They fed off of each other's jealously and that too inspired their paintings.
By the 1980's there was a resurrgence of the art of the indigenous Mexican peoples and the artistic style of Neomexicanismo began. Frida Kahlo's paintings became very popular and important. Since the 80's Kahlo has earned the reputation, along with Diego Rivera, as one of Mexico's most important modern painters.