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The Love, Life and Works of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo : Great Mexican Artists of the 20th Century

Updated on August 29, 2014

In honor of the holiday Cinco De Mayo, I am featuring in this hub two of the greatest Mexican artists of the 20th century, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, whom came to my attention in 2002, when I was a student and watched a movie about them with the title "FRIDA" portrayed by Salma Hayek. Cinco de Mayo (translated in English May the 5th) is an annual celebration in Mexico (but not countrywide) and is specific to Puebla, a place where the Mexicans fight and won an unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of the Puebla on May 5, 1862.


  • Diego Rivera is a Mexican communist, muralist and painter educated in Mexico and went to Europe to further his studies. "He was a world-famous Mexican painter, an active Communist, and husband of Frida Kahlo, 1929–1939 and 1940–1954 (her death).
  • Birthdate : December 8, 1886 – Dead :November 24, 1957


  • She was born on July 6, 1907 –  and died - July 13, 1954. She was a Mexican painter known for the subject of her paintings - herself - self portrait. Her paintings are full of "pain and passion". She uses bright colors. Her works are a combination of "patriotic", "feministic approaches" and of "indigenous" touches.
  • Married to Diego Rivera, self proclaimed lesbian

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera

The Love, Life and Works of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo : Great Mexican Artists of the 20th Century

Image courtesy of wikipedia
Image courtesy of wikipedia

Diego Riveras work

The Life and Works of Diego Rivera : Great Mexican Artist of the 20th Century

Roots : Diego Rivera belongs to a wealthy family. He was descended, on his mother's side, from Jews who converted to Catholicism and Spaniards on his father's side.

Education : He was educated in Mexico and was sent to study in Europe by the governor in their place VeraCruz, Mexico. He later on returned to Mexico in the 1920s. "to become involved in the government sponsored Mexican mural program planned by Vasconcelos" -- Minister of Education.

Inspiration : Paintings was inspired by Pablo Picasso, George Braque and around 1917, his paintings were inspired by Paul Cezanne's paintings and he shifted to Post Impressionism with simple forms and large patches of vivid colors, "it was during this time that his paintings began to attract attention, thus he was able to display them at several exhibitions".

Controversy being a Communist: In 1927 from Mexico, he went to Russia to accept an invitation to take part in the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the October Revolution, he was to paint a mural for the Red Army Club in Moscow, but in the next year 1928 he was ordered out by the authorities because of involvement in anti Soviet affairs in politics, then he returned to Mexico. In 1929, Rivera was expelled from the Mexican Communist Party.

In The US-- He also went to US to pursue his career in mural paintings in the 1930's in California and Detroit, USA together with his then wife Frida Kahlo

The Paintings of Frida Kahlo


The Life and Works of Frida Kahlo : Great Mexican Artist of the 20th Century

Roots : Her father, Kahlo, was born Carl Wilhelm Kahlo in Germany, the son of Henriette Kaufmann and Jakob Heinrich Kahlo. While Frida herself maintained that her father was of Hungarian-Jewish ancestry, Kahlo Frida's mother, Matilde Calderón y Gonzalez, was a devout Catholic of primarily indigenous, as well as Spanish descent.

She was the third daughter among four daughters

Education : She should have taken medicine but because of her condition she became a painter

Disability : Kahlo contracted polio at age six, which left her right leg thinner than the left, which Kahlo disguised by wearing long, colorful skirts. It has been conjectured that she also suffered from spina bifida (a congenital disease that could have affected both spinal and leg development)

Accident --- She met an accident that made her life miserable that even though she recovered she was in pain and damaged her reproductive capability because of the injury suffered/ On September 17, 1925, Kahlo was riding in a bus when the vehicle collided with a trolley car

Paintings and Influences :

  • She used vibrant colors in a style that was influenced by indigenous cultures of Mexico and European influences including Realism, Surrealism and Symbolism. Lots of her works are self portraits that symbolically articulate her own pain.
  • Because of her accident she was confined and immobile, and she has this to say : "I paint myself because I am often alone and I am the subject I know best".
  • Drawing on personal experiences, including her marriage, miscarriages, and her numerous operations, "Kahlo's works often are characterized by their stark portrayals of pain". Of her 143 paintings, 55 are self-portraits which often incorporate symbolic portrayals of physical and psychological wounds. She insisted, "I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality."

The Marriage of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera

The Beginning of Relationship

  • They met when the young Frida Kahlo met Diego Rivera when she ask advice for pursuing art as a career. She admired the works of Diego Rivera and he recognized her talent and her unique expression as truly special and uniquely Mexican. It has been said that "he encouraged her artistic development and began an intimate relationship with Frida Kahlo".

Their Relationship was Rough and Tumultuous

  • Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera's love affair was rather tumultuous and rough. Kahlo Frida is a bisexual and had an affair with another woman. Diego Rivera was always jealous with the man she is connecting with although he knew that she is a bisexual. He had fiery temperaments and had numerous extramarital affairs.  For her part, Kahlo was furious when she learned that Rivera had an affair with her younger sister, Cristina. Their second marriage was as turbulent as the first. Their living quarters often were separate, although sometimes adjacent.


  • They were married in 1929, despite the disapproval of Frida's mother.The couple eventually divorced in November 1939, but remarried in December 1940.


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    • alexandriaruthk profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from US

      Hi Cheeky, nice of you to read this one, aren't their love great and their works are exceptional too, Thanks my dear, Maita

    • alexandriaruthk profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from US

      Yes Mick, they are, Maita

    • Cheeky Girl profile image

      Cassandra Mantis 

      8 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

      These two artists are two of the most famous artists of their generation. Their personalities as well as their love of art were so intertwined, it was amazing. I read the story of their marriage and lives both together and apart. Quite riveting. Great hub, Maita! Cheers!

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      9 years ago

      They are indeed fantastic artists! Thank you Maita!

    • alexandriaruthk profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from US

      Barry, nice to see you

    • alexandriaruthk profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from US

      thank you Pam,

    • alexandriaruthk profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from US

      thank you Ann, they are great artists hwo deserved this hub,

    • alexandriaruthk profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from US

      thank you RON

    • alexandriaruthk profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from US

      hi elayne, nice to see you here, I visited your site now and thank you,

    • elayne001 profile image


      9 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Okay, so you stole my idea - just kiddin' - I wrote about Mexico too and mentioned these two artists in it. Good job!

    • rprcarz50 profile image


      9 years ago

      Great content on this Hub! You are special.

      Thank you for putting your fine work into this Hub.


      As Always Also a2z50

    • Ann Nonymous profile image

      Ann Nonymous 

      9 years ago from Virginia

      Hi Alexandri! I like how you took a unique spin on Cinco de Mayo by focusing on an integral part of the Mexican culture and it's history. Great hub featuring great artists!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      9 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Interesting hub. I wouldn't have thought about artists but I enjoyed this article. Thanks.

    • barryrutherford profile image

      Barry Rutherford 

      9 years ago from Queensland Australia

      great hub well done !


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