The Elephant and The Dove, Diego & Frida – A Love Story

I’m unashamedly and totally head over heels in love with great love stories, sappy ones are even better! I am happiest watching a tragic love story unravelling in a movie. I have absolutely no embarrassment sobbing and sniffling at the cinema, I’ll even rate a romantic movie using the ‘Evans Kleenex Scale’ depending on how many tissues I’ll cry into!  Sobfest movies high on the red nose scale are: The English Patient, The Time Travellers Wife and Somewhere in Time – just thinking about Jane Seymour screaming ‘RICHARD’ as she loses grasp of Christopher Reeve makes my eyes quite moist! This gives you an idea of just how my soppy old heart works.

My love for romance stories began in my teen years, looking for that much desired and fabled ‘One True Love’ of my own while watching influential old movies. I blame Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr of course for falling in love travelling across the ocean and ultimately making the top of the Empire State Building THE site for real life wedding proposals.

I’m intrigued (you might call it nosy) with how couples meet, was it love at first sight, a passionate affair or were you friends that fell in love over time, did fate bring you together? Do you have that special love story or romantic event that shapes your relationship? I won’t be embarrassed to ask you!

In real life there are some incredible love stories that will stand the test of time: Edward & Mrs Simpson, JFK & Jackie and Victoria & Albert. Anyway these sappy revelations brings me to the colourful love story of Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo.

I remember reading a Cosmpolitan article in my teens about Frida, I knew nothing about this Mexican lady whose strong face with prominent uni brow, hint of a moustache, bejewelled ears and with colourful braided hair piled on her head was staring out of the page at me drawing me in.

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The article ignited a passion for this fascinating figure and has kept my interest over the years. I never would have predicted that this girl from Coventry would end up travelling in Mexico many years later – fate laid an unlikely path in my love story!

By visiting The National Palace in Mexico City I have been able to view the incredible Diego Rivera famous murals and in Guanajuato I visited the house where Diego was born which, displays a lot more of his artwork throughout his years.

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In DF we visited the ‘Casa Azul’ where Frida was born and only 47 short years later died in. The Blue House was my number one destination to visit and it was magical. I’ve learnt so much more about their love story and artworks of renowned Mexican painter Diego Rivera and the now iconic figure of Frida Kahlo. If they lived in today’s world their Facebook relationship status would read complicated

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Diego was 20 years older and probably 3 times larger in size than Frida when they married in 1929 she was 22. He was The Elephant, ugly looking but alluring. He called her The Dove, petite in size and crippled with chronic pain for half her life, however she was never going to be able to fly away from him emotionally or physically from the wheelchair that she would eventually be confined to. Their relationship was full of drama, heartache and passion. Diego had been married twice before and would continue to have affairs throughout their marriage. His affair with Frida’s sister would prove the ultimate betrayal for Frida leading to divorce after 10 years of marriage.

For Frida passion ran through her blood, the scars on her body not holding her back. She too had several explicit affairs with both women and men, notably with Trotsky who was a guest in their house during his exile. While her affairs may have been to make Diego jealous, she fell deeply in love with painter José Bartoli while she was in New York. A series of their love letters recently went on sale at auction, these letters are extremely sensual and give you an idea that when Frida fell in love it was hard and from a great height.

My Bartoli…I don’t know how to write love letters.  But I wanted to tell you that my whole being opened for you. Since I fell in love with you everything is transformed and is full of beauty…. love is like an aroma, like a current, like rain.  You know, my sky, you rain on me and I, like the earth, receive you. Mara”  — Frida Kahlo, October 1946

Although she loved others it was always Diego that was her ‘One True Love’. The one she always wanted to have love her unconditionally. She had admired and teased him while he was at her school where he was already a larger than life celebrity painter. Following her fateful horrific streetcar accident at age 18, she took up painting in her childhood bed while recovering from operations to put her body back together. She then sought out Rivera’s opinion on her painting ability and from that moment their path together was set.

Following their divorce, a  year later they remarried. Due to her accident she was never able to have children with Diego but they continued their troubled love story until her death, unable to live apart from each other and often unable to live together.

Diego said that when Frida died “it was the most tragic day of his life” and only then in her death that he had come to understand that “the most wonderful part of his life had been his love for Frida”.

“You must know, my child, that in the accumulator of my love there is energy enough…It seems to me that it was just five minutes ago I met you” – Diego Rivera

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There is so much more to their story to tell, along with their paintings, museum displays and artifacts their story really came to life for me. It is one of passion and tragedy but overall total love. Now that makes me happy.

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