On May 12th, 1891, at age 19, Wilhelm Kahl, Frida’s father, a Jew of Hungarian-German origin, sails from Germany to Mexico aboard the freighter “Borussia“. He changes his German name “Wilhelm Kahl” to a more Spanish sounding name, “Guillermo Kahlo” and trades his Jewish religion for atheism.
He finds employment at a fashionable jewelry store in Mexico City that is owned by German immigrant friends.
Guillermo Kahlo marries Maria Cardena. [He has three girls with her, the second one dies days after her birth and Maria herself dies following the birth of their third infant, leaving Guillermo alone with his two daughters, Maria Luisa (b. 1894) and Margarita (b.1898).]
On the very night of Maria’s death, Guillermo asked for the hand of Frida’s mother, Matilde Calderon, a coworker at the jewelry store.
Guillermo Kahlo marries Frida’s mother, Matilde Calderon y Gonzales, a native born Mexican of Spanish/Indian descent.
[Matilde later confesses to Frida that she did not love Guillermo. She only married Guillermo because he was German and reminded her of a previous young lover who had killed himself. Guillermo’s two young daughters from his previous marriage are sent away to be brought up in a convent. Guillermo learns the art of photography from Matilde’s father, Antonio Calderón, and sets himself up in business as a professional photographer.]
On a rainy morning, July 6th, at 8:30 am, Magdalena Carmen Frieda Calderon is born in the “Blue House” in Coyoacán, Mexico. She is the 3rd of four daughters born to the couple: Matilde (1898-1951), Adriana (1902-1968), Frida (1907-1954) and Cristina (1908-1964).
Frida’s grandmother officially registers Frida’s birth at the Civil Registry Office listing her address as the place of birth and not the “Blue House“.
Frida’s mother is too ill to care for or even to feed her newborn daughter. Frida is breastfed by an Indian wet-nurse whom the Kahlo’s hired for that specific purpose.
At age 6, Frida is struck with polio affecting the use of her right leg. Her leg grew very thin, and her foot was stunted in its growth. During her nine month convalescence, her father made sure that she regularly exercised the muscles in her leg and foot. Despite their efforts, her leg and foot remained deformed. Frida attempts to hide it by wearing pants, long skirts or two pairs of sock on her right foot.
(Note: Frida’s medical records are very vague so it’s uncertain as to whether Frida was actually afflicted with polio or a similar condition called “white tumor”.)
Frida attends classes at a German elementary school, “Colegio Aleman” in Mexico City. She is cruelly nicknamed “peg-leg Frida” by her classmates.
Frida commutes to Mexico City to begin classes at the National Preparatory School. Frida is one of only 35 girls to attend the prestigious school with hopes of becoming a doctor. At this point in her life she has no interest in pursuing a career as an artist.
The Mexican mural movement begins. The government sponsors murals to be painted in churches, schools, libraries, and public buildings. Frida first learns of Diego Rivera, who is painting his mural “Creation” at the school’s lecture hall.
Frida becomes a member of the “Los Cachuchas“, a political group that supported socialist-nationalist ideas and devoted themselves intensively to literature. Alejandro Gómez Arias, who later becomes Frida’s boyfriend, is the leader of the group.
Frida changes the spelling of her name from the German “Frieda” to “Frida” and proudly claims to have been born in 1910, the year the Mexican Revolution began. [Actucally she changed her birth date simply to make herself younger. This causes confusion in the chronology of her life and art.] She continues to use “Frieda” when signing some paintings and letters in the early 1930s..
On November 30th, Frida’s poem “Recuerdo [Memory]” is published by “El Universal Ilustrado“.
Frida and Alejandro become romantically involved.
Frida begins helping her father in his photography studio. He teaches her how to use a camera and how to develop, retouch and color photographs. This experience will prove to be useful in the years to come.
Frida is hired as a paid apprentice to the commercial printmaker Fernando Fernandez, a close friend of her father’s. Fernando teaches her how to draw and how to copy prints by the Swedish Impressionist Anders Zorn.
On September 17, Frida and her boyfriend, Alejandro Gomez Arias, get onto a bus to head home from school. Shortly afterwards, the bus is stuck broadside by a tram. Frida sustains multiple injuries, a broken pelvic bone, spinal column, and other severe injuries, leading doctors to doubt whether she would survive. She spends the next several months in bed recovering from the accident.
While in recovery, Frida learns that she will never be able to have children. She creates a birth certificate for an imaginary son that she gave birth to after suffering her accident. She writes that her son, “Leonardo“, was born in September of 1925 at the Red Cross Hospital [where Frida was treated after the accident]. She claims that he was baptized the following year and that his mother was Frida Kahlo and his Godparents were Isabel Campos and Alejandro Gómez Arias. (View birth certificate)
During her months of convalescence from the bus accident she begins to take painting seriously. She experiments first with watercolors and then oil.
In September Frida paints “Self-Portrait in a Velvet Dress“, her first serious work and the first of many self-portraits to come. She paints it as a gift for her boyfriend, Alejandro Gómez Arias, who has left her suspecting she had been unfaithful prior to the accident. Frida hopes the painting will win him back.
In March, Alejandro departs for an extended tour of Europe. Frida and Alejandro communicate frequently by letter.
By the end of the year, Frida’s health has recovered to the extent that she is once more living a largely “normal” life. She resumes contact with her old school friends and joins the Young Communist League.
Frida paints several portraits of friends and family.
Frida is introduced to a group of young people centered around the Cuban Communist Julio Antonio Mella, who is currently in exile in Mexico. One of the group members is the photographer Tina Modotti, Mella’s lover and an acquaintance of Diego Rivera.
Through Modotti Frida meets Diego Rivera and she later shows him some of her paintings. She asks him what he thinks of her art and whether he considers her talented. Diego tells her: “you have talent” and strengthens her resolve to pursue a career as an artist. Diego begins to court Frida.
Frida’s romantic relationship with Alejandro ends. She immediately turns her attention towards Diego Rivera.
Diego incorporates a portrait of Frida into his “Ballad of the Revolution” mural in the Ministry of Public Education. She appears in a panel he calls “Frida Kahlo Distributes the Arms“. Dressed in a black skirt and red shirt, and wearing a red star on her breast, she is shown as a member of the Mexican Communist Party, which she in fact joins in 1928.
On August 21, in a civil ceremony in the town hall of Coyoacán, Kahlo becomes Rivera’s third wife. Diego was 42 years old, 6’1″ tall, and 300 pounds; Frida was 22, 5’3″ tall and only 98 pounds. Frida’s mother does not approve of the union saying that Diego is too old and too fat and worse yet he is a Communist and an atheist. Frida’s father is less resistant to the marriage. He understands that Diego has the financial means to provide for his daughter’s medical needs. Frida’s friends are shocked by her choice while others see it as a way for Frida to advance her own career as an artist.
Frida becomes pregnant but has to terminate the pregnancy after three months.
Rivera is expelled from the Communist Party after accepting a commission from the Mexican government. As a result of Diego’s expulsion, Frida also leaves the Communist Party.
In December, the Rivera’s move to Cuernavaca, where Rivera has a commission to paint murals for the American ambassador, Dwight W. Morrow, at the Palace of Cortes.
Frida paints her second self-portrait, “Time Flies“, in which she establishes the “folkloric” style that becomes her signature trademark style.
In the beginning of the year, Frida undergoes an abortion because the fetus is incorrectly positioned due to her fractured pelvis. [Diego did not want children partly because painting commissions obliged them to travel a great deal.]
On November 10th, Frida and Diego arrive in San Francisco where Diego has been commissioned to paint murals in the Luncheon Club of the San Francisco Stock Exchange and the California School of Fine Arts [now the San Francisco Art Institute].
Frida meets photographers Imogen Cunningham, Ansel Adams and Edward Weston; art patron Albert Bender, sculptor Ralph Stackpole, and the painter Arnold Blanch and his wife Lucile.
While Diego paints his murals, Frida paints “Frieda and Diego Rivera“, a double portrait based on a wedding photograph.
From November 1930 to June 1931, the Rivera’s live in San Francisco while Diego works on a mural. During this period, the pain and deformity in Frida’s right leg worsens and she is hospitalized. There she meets Dr. Leo Eloesser, a well-known bone surgeon. Dr. Eloesser has been a friend of Diego’s since 1926. He becomes Frida’s most trusted medical advisor for the rest of her life.
Frida’s painting “Frieda 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.
In May Frida returns to Mexico leaving Diego behind to finish the murals. He returns June 8th as they had originally planned.
Back in Mexico, Frida meets the Hungarian born photographer Nickolas Muray who is vacationing in Mexico. They engage in a secret “on-again/off-again” love affair that would last for nearly 10 years.
In November, Kahlo and Rivera sail to New York for Diego’s retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art on December 22.
In March, the Rivera’s move to Philadelphia. In April the couple move to Detroit where Rivera has been awarded another commission from the Ford Motor Company to paint a mural at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
On July 4th , Frida’s second pregnancy ends in miscarriage at Henry Ford Hospital. She spends the next 13 days recovering in the hospital.
In early September, Frida and Lucienne Bloch travel back to Mexico, where Frida’s mother is ill. On September 15, Frida’s mother dies at the age of 56. She suffered from breast cancer and two days earlier had undergone gall-bladder surgery to remove 160 gallstones. Kahlo and Bloch return to Detroit in October.
Architect Juan O’Gorman starts construction on the Rivera’s new home in the San Angel district of Mexico City.
In March, the couple returns to New York where Rivera agrees to paint a mural in the RCA Building in Rockefeller Center.
On May 9th, Rivera’s Rockefeller Center commission is rescinded because of his use of Lenin’s portrait in the mural. Rivera refuses to remove Lenin’s portrait and the mural is later destroyed. Four days later, General Motors cancels Rivera’s Chicago World’s Fair commission.
In June, Rivera accepts a mural commission for the New Worker’s School in New York.
On December 20, Frida and Diego return to Mexico. Upon their return they move into the double studio-houses in San Angel designed for them by Juan O’Gorman.
The Rockefeller Center mural is destroyed Feb. 10, 1934.
Due to “infantilism of the ovaries”, Frida’s third pregnancy is again in trouble. Frida undergoes an appendectomy, an abortion, and an operation on her right foot to remove the ends of her toes.
Kahlo and Rivera live in the adjoining studio-houses in San Angel. During the summer, the couple separate after Frida discovers that Diego is having an affair with her younger sister Cristina.
Frida leaves the house in San Angel for several months and takes her own apartment in central Mexico City (Avenida Insurgentes 432). In July, she travels to New York with Anita Brenner and Mary Schapiro. By the end of the year she returns to the house in San Angel and she and Diego reconcile. They agree to live separate independent lives.
Frida meets the Japanese/American sculptor Isamu Noguchi and has an affair with him.
Frida has a third operation on her right foot.
In July, the Spanish Civil War breaks out. Frida and Diego work on behalf of the Spanish Republicans, raising money for Mexicans fighting against Franco’s forces. In September, Rivera joins the Mexican section of the Trotskyite International Communist League.
For the next two years, Diego is plagued with eye, liver and kidney problems, which require hospitalization and extended bed rest.
On January 9th, Leon Trotsky and his wife, Natalia Sedova, arrive in Mexico, where he has been granted political asylum, largely through Rivera’s intervention. Frida gives them the use of the Blue House in Coyoacán. Shortly after their arrival, Frida and Trotsky become close and engage in a secret relationship. The affair ends in July.
On September 23rd, four of Frida’s paintings are included in a group exhibition at the Galeria de Arte at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. The first public showing of Frida’s work in Mexico.
In April, French poet and surrealist André Breton and his wife, the painter Jacqueline Lamba, visit Mexico in order to meet Trotsky. They stayed with Guadalupe Marin, Diego Rivera’s previous wife, and meet the Kahlo-Riveras. When Breton sees Kahlo’s unfinished “What the Water Gave Me“, the metaphorical self-portrait of what life had given her – floating on the water of her bathtub – he immediately labels her an innate “surrealist“, and offers to show her work in Paris.
American collector and film actor Edward G. Robinson purchases four of Frida’s paintings for $200 each, her first significant sale.
In October, Frida travels to New York for her first solo exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery, 15 East 57th St, November 1-15. Twenty-five of her paintings are exhibited and half of them are sold. The following paintings were shown at the exhibition:
|Asking Price||Painting Title|
|$300||Portrait of Luther Burbank|
|$150||Henry Ford Hospital (with the title “The Lost Desire“)|
|$450||My Dress Hangs There|
|$300||A Few Small Nips (with the title “Passionately in Love“)|
|$150||Flowers – I belong to My Owner|
|$600||Self Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky (with the title “Between the Curtains“)|
|$300||My Nurse and I|
|$250||Memory (with the title “The Heart“)|
|$300||Fulang-Change and I|
|$300||Still Life with Pitahayas|
|$400||The Fruits of the Earth|
|Unknown||Self Portrait “The Frame”|
|$300||Self Portrait with Itzcuintli Dog|
|$150||They Asked for Planes and Only Got Straw Wings|
|$200||Remembrance of an Open Wound|
|$300||The Four Inhabitants of Mexico (with the title “The Square is Theirs“)|
|$100||Girl with Death Mask (with the title “She Plays Alone“)|
|$600||What the Water Gave Me|
|$250||The Deceased Dimas (with the title “Dressed Up for Paradise“)|
|$300||My Grandparents, My Parents and I (with the title “My Family“)|
While in New York, Kahlo and Nickolas Muray continue their secret love affair.
Kahlo travels to Paris in January for “Mexique“, an exhibition of her works in the Colle Gallery. It opens on March 10th and includes Kahlo’s work as well as the works of photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo and Breton’s own collection of Mexican popular art. One of the paintings shown was the self-portrait “The Frame” which was purchased by The Louvre. This painting became the first work by a 20th century Mexican artist to be purchased by the Louvre.
While in Paris Frida contracts a kidney infection and is hospitalized.
On March 25th, Frida sails back to New York and learns that Muray is having affairs with other women. Muray breaks off the relationship with Kahlo and she returns to Mexico in April. They continue to correspond until late 1941 when Frida stops responding to Muray’s letters.
Upon her return to Mexico, Frida moves back into the family home in Coyoacán. During the summer, Frida and Diego separate and begin divorce proceedings. In the autumn, Frida suffers from a fungus infection on her hand and experiences severe pain in her spine. Dr Juan Farill prescribes bed rest and traction. Emotional and physical pain drives her to drinking heavily.
Diego files for divorce and on November 6th, the Kahlo/Rivera divorce is finalized.
In January “The Two Fridas” and the now lost “The Wounded Table” are exhibited in the “International Surrealism Exhibition” organized by Breton and Paalen at the Gallery of Mexican Art.
On May 24th, an unsuccessful assassination attempt is made on Trotsky’s life by a group of Stalinists. Trotsky and his wife move out of the Blue House. Rivera, wanted for questioning, goes into hiding then flees to San Francisco.
On Aug 20th, Trotsky is assassinated. Frida’s past association with him and Rivera’s public rift provoke the police to hold her for two days of questioning.
In September, Frida travels to San Francisco for treatment from Dr. Eloesser. Dr. Eloesser rejects the Mexican doctor’s recommendation for surgery. His tests of Frida reveal a severe kidney infection and anemia. He recommends extended bed rest.
Frida exhibits her work in the “Contemporary Mexican Painting and Graphic Art” at the Palace of Fine Art in San Francisco’s Golden Gate International Exhibition.
Later in the year “The Two Fridas” is shown in New York at the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition “Twenty Centuries of Mexican Art“.
In November, Dr. Eloesser convinces Rivera to reconcile and marry Kahlo a second time. On December 8th, Diego’s 54th birthday, Frida and Diego are married for a second time. Frida departs for Mexico before the end of the year and Rivera remains in San Francisco.
In February, no longer under suspicion, Diego returns to Mexico, joined by his California assistant, Emmy Lou Packard. He lives in the Kahlo family home in Coyoacán with Frida, using the San Angel house as his studio.
On April 14th, Frida’s father dies. Some say a heart attack was the cause of death while others say it was an epileptic seizure. Frida suffers from depression which exacerbates her ill health.
Frida is one of twenty-five artist and intellectuals chosen by the Ministry of Education to be founders of the Seminar of Mexican Culture.
Frida’s art is included in the exhibition “Modern Mexican Painters” at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in Boston.
On February 28th, Frida participates in the “Seminario de Cultura Mexicana” (Seminar of Mexican Culture).
Kahlo’s “Self-Portrait with Braid” is included in the exhibition “20th Century Portraits” at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Another of Frida’s paintings is included in the “First Papers of Surrealism” sponsored by the Coordinating Council of French Relief Societies.
Construction begins on Anahuacalli, a museum to house Rivera’s collection of pre-Columbian artifacts. Frida raises funds for it by selling her apartment and by writing to government officials for public support.
In January, Frida is included in “Exhibition by 31 Women” at Peggy Guggenheim’s “Art of This Century” Gallery in New York.
January 14th, the Kahlo painting “The Portrait of Marucha Lavin” is exhibited in a show, “A Century of the Portrait in Mexico (1830-1942)“, at the Benjamin Franklin Library, Mexico City.
In May, Frida’s works, along with Diego’s and other Mexican artists, are shown at the “Mexican Artists” exhibit hosted by the American British Art Center in New York City.
“Xochitl” and “The Flower of Life” are exhibited at the “First Salon of the Flower“, organized by the Secretaria de Agricultura y Fomento (Secretary of Agriculture and Development).
Frida’s work is included in “Mexican Art Today” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (“The Two Fridas”, “What the Water Gave Me” and “Self Portrait with Necklace of Thorns”).
Frida 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. A few months later, poor health prevents her from traveling to Mexico City; she holds classes in her Coyoacán home. Eventually only four students come regularly: Arturo Garcia Bustos, Guillermo Monroy, Arturo Estrada and Fanny Rabel. They become known as “Los Fridos“.
June 19th, Frida and her students complete a decorative mural on the pulqueria “La Rosita” near the Blue House in Coyoacán.
Frida’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.
Frida reduces her teaching schedule, but remains committed to her students. She receives a commission for a mural at the Hotel Posada del Sol to be painted by her students. The hotel owner is not satisfied with the mural and has it destroyed.
Frida exhibits her works in group shows at the “Gallery of Contemporary Painters” (New York) and two exhibits in Mexico City: “Second Salon of the Flower” and “The Child in Mexican Painting” at the Benjamin Franklin Library.
Frida begins a diary which she will keep until her death.
After reading Freud’s “Moses and Monotheism“, Frida paints “Moses“, her interpretation of Freud’s book.
Lola Alvarez Bravo takes a series of photographs of Frida.
In September, Frida is awarded the National Prize of Arts and Sciences, from the Ministry of Public Education for her painting “Moses“.
In June, Frida travels to New York with her sister Cristina and undergoes a bone-graft operation. They return to Mexico in October. Large doses of morphine are prescribed for her pain. She is confined to an iron corset for 8 months. Her health worsens and she develops anemia.
At the National Institute of Fine Arts in Mexico City, Frida’s painting “Self-Portrait as a Tehuana” (Diego in My Thoughts) is exhibited in “Forty-Five Self-Portraits by Mexican Painters from the 18th to the 20th Centuries“.
In March, Diego is hospitalized with bronchial pneumonia.
On July 6th, Frida turns 40 but she celebrates it as her 37th birthday (She changed her birth year to 1910 to coincide with the year the Mexican Revolution began.)
At Rivera’s request, Frida reapplies to join the Mexican Communist Party. Her membership is approved. (Rivera is not accepted back until 1954.)
In the winter of 1948, Rivera begins an affair with the actress Maria Felix that caused a public scandal. Convinced that the actress will marry him he considers a divorce from Kahlo.
Cristina Kahlo, Frida’s younger sister, confronts Maria Felix about her ongoing affair with Rivera and pleads with her to end the relationship for the sake of Frida. In June the Rivera/Felix affair abruptly ends.
Frida’s essay “Portrait of Diego” is published as the introduction to Diego’s fifty-year retrospective held at the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City.
Frida paints “Diego and I” and “The Love Embrace of the Universe, the Earth (Mexico), Me, Diego, and Mr. Xólotl“, which is exhibited at the inaugural exhibition of the “Salon de la Plástica Mexicana“.
Gangrene is apparent on Frida’s right foot.
Kahlo is hospitalized for nine months because of recurring spinal problems. She undergoes a total of 7 operations on her spine during that period. 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.
Following her discharge from the hospital, she is confined to her bed for much of the time. Full-time nurses are hired to care for her and give her injections of pain killers.
June 10th, Fernando Benitez writes a tribute to the life and art of Kahlo in the newspaper “Novedades“.
Frida helps to collect a list of signatures supporting the peace movement. Diego immortalizes her actions in his mural “The Nightmare of War and the Dream of Peace“.
Frida begins a series of still-life paintings. She produces 13 over the next two years. [Because of her degrading physical appearance, it may be that she no longer felt that she wanted to portray her true image in a self-portrait. Instead, by proxy, she projected her pain and emotions on to the wounded fruits and weeping coconuts of her still life paintings. Also at this time, Frida was consuming large quantities of pain killers with alcohol that seriously affected her ability to paint. For this reason she may have turned to painting still life because they require less detail and can be executed without the precision brush strokes required of her self portraits.]
Lola Alvarez Bravo organizes the first solo exhibition of Frida’s works in Mexico. The exhibition runs from April 13th through the 27th at the Galería de Arte Contemporáneo. Frida’s doctor tells her she is not well enough to attend the opening, but, in Frida style, she attends the opening. Her bed is loaded into the back of a truck and driven to the exhibition opening. Frida follows in an ambulance. Upon arrival, Frida returns to her bed and four men carry her inside to greet her friends.
In August her right leg, infected with gangrene, is amputated below the knee.
On April 19th, Frida is admitted to the hospital for reasons unknown. Some say it was a suicide attempt others say it was just failing health. In an April 27th diary entry she writes: “I am well again – I’ve made a promise and I’ll keep it never to turn back“. She continues with a three page “Thank You” note to the doctors, nurses and everyone who ever took care of her.
On May 6th, Frida falls and a needle on the floor gets lodged in her buttocks. She is hospitalized to have it removed.
In early June Frida contracts bronchial pneumonia. She is confined to bed. In late June her health seems to improve.
On July 2nd, while still convalescing, and against the advice of her doctors, she and Diego take part in a demonstration against North-American intervention in Guatemala. This would be her last public appearance. As a result of her actions, her pneumonia worsens.
On July 13th, seriously ill with pneumonia, Frida dies in the Blue House. Cause of death is officially reported as “pulmonary embolism“. Suicide is suspected but never confirmed (See Note 1 below). Her last written diary entry reads: “I hope the exit is joyful – and I hope never to return – Frida” (See Note 2 below).
That afternoon her coffin is placed in the entrance hall of the Palacio de Bellas Artes, attended by an honor guard.
On the 14th of July, more than 600 people came to pay their last respects. Her body was cremated later that day. Her ashes were placed in a pre-Columbian urn which is on display in the “Blue House” that she shared with Rivera.
Rivera is diagnosed with cancer.
On July 29th, Rivera marries his art dealer/publisher Emma Hurtado. They travel to the Soviet Union where Rivera undergoes surgery and cobalt treatment. They return to Mexico at the beginning of April and stay at the home of a friend, Dolores Olmedo, in Acapulco, while he recovers.
Rivera puts Anahuacalli and Kahlo’s Coyoacán home Casa Azul in trust as public art museums.
On November 24, Diego Rivera dies of heart failure in his San Angel studio. He is buried in the “Rotunda of Famous Men” in Mexico City, in contradiction to his expressed wishes that he be cremated and his ashes commingled with those of Frida.
(NOTE: When Frida died, she was cremated and her ashes were placed in a pre-Columbian pot that Diego lovingly wrapped in a red cloth and carried to the crematorium. While pouring Frida’s ashes into the pot he expressed his own last wishes to the mourners who accompanied him: “It won’t take me long to join Frida… I’ve kept this pot for quite some time for our ashes.”
(Diego’s last will and testament specified that his body was to be cremated and his ashes were to be mixed with those of Frida’s and their ashes were to be kept in the Blue House in Coyoacán. However, Diego’s two daughters and his wife at the time refused to respect his last wishes. They felt that it was in the best interest of the nation for him to be buried in the “Rotunda of Famous Men” in Mexico City.)
On July 30th, the Casa Azul (Blue House) was opened to the public as the “Frida Kahlo Museum“. The home was presented to the Mexican nation in accordance with the wishes of Diego Rivera.
Note 1: Suicide is suspected….
How Frida died seems to be controversial. Did she die of a “pulmonary embolism” as reported on her official death certificate, did she commit suicide as many suspect, or was it a case of “assisted suicide” with Diego’s help? Since Diego was reluctant to have an autopsy performed and his eagerness to have the body promptly cremated we’ll never know for sure. We can only speculate based on the clues she left behind.
After the amputation of her right leg in August of 1953, Frida’s mental state declined rapidly. On February 11, 1954, she wrote in her diary that she keeps wanting to kill herself but her love for Diego stops her. But, the last line of that entry reads: “…I will wait a little while“…an indication that she may actually attempt suicide some time later. This was not the only time Frida wrote or spoke about suicide.
In June Frida contracted pneumonia and was confined to bed. On the eve of her death, she gave Diego a gold ring that she bought for him for their 25th wedding anniversary…still 17 days away. She explained to Diego that she was giving it to him now “…because I feel I am going to leave you very soon…“. Did she know she was going to die because of failing health or did she know she was going to commit suicide that night…?
A pill count the following morning revealed that she did in fact take 4 more pain pills than was prescribed by the doctor. Was it intentional to commit suicide…or was it because at that point she was in so much pain and just wanted relief at any cost…or was it an accidental overdose…? And was it really the cause of her death…or was she really a victim of pneumonia…?
My personal theory is that it was a combination of years of smoking and drinking, too many surgeries (more than 30), too many pills, an acute case of pneumonia and a declining will to endure the suffering anymore. Exhausted from the endless struggle to live she just gave up and allowed herself to die.
Frida left us with an unsolved mystery…..but that’s the way she would have wanted it.
That’s the way I see it…..Mike
Note 2: Frida’s Last Diary Entry…
There also seems to be some controversy surrounding the meaning of Frida’s last diary entry. Some say it refers to her death while others argue that it refers to her discharge from the hospital.
The entry in question in Spanish reads: “Espero alegre la salida – y espero no volver jamás – FRIDA“. The controversy stems from its translation.
There seems to be no question about the translation of the last half of the text: “…y espero no volver jamás“. It says “…and I hope never to return.“
However, the first part of the text: “Espero alegre la salida…” has produced two widely accepted and widely published translations:
The first translation: “I hope the end is joyful…” “the end” most likely referring to her death. However, “la salida” as it is written does not translate to “the end“. “la salida” correctly translates to: “the exit” or “the departure“.
The second translation: “I hope the exit is joyful…” a more correct translation could still be referring to her death… “the exit” from this world. Or, it could be referring to “the departure” from the hospital….she hopes that her release from the hospital is a joyful occasion.
My belief is that she was writing about the latter….she’s referring to the departure (“la salida“) from the hospital. The entry in question appears as the last line of a full page diary entry. Preceding that line, on the same page using the same pen, she wrote the following:
“Thanks to the doctors
Farill – Glusker – Parres
and Doctor Enrique Palomera
Thanks to the nurses to the stretcher bearers to the
cleaning women and attendants at the
British Hospital –
Thanks to Dr. Vargas
To Navarro to Dr. Polo
And to my will-
In this entry she is thanking the entire staff of the hospital. So, it only seems plausible that “la salida” is referring to her release from the British Hospital “…and I hope never to return.” is referring to she hopes never to have to return to the hospital.
I conclude that the diary entry in question is, without a doubt, referring to her release from the hospital…and not her death. Or, did she intentionally write the line with a double meaning simply to confuse us…? Maybe….that was Frida’s style….
This is my own personal opinion….Mike