60 years ago on July 13th, in the first hours of the morning when everyone was sleeping in the Blue House, Frida Kahlo died in her Casa Azul in Coyoacán, Mexico City.
It seems that shortly before her death she prepared herself to let go: a few days before Frida died she gave Diego a ring as a gift for their 25th wedding anniversary. When Diego asked why she was giving it to him so early instead of waiting for the anniversary date of August 21st, Frida replied "because I feel I am going to leave you very soon".
Six days before dying she managed to get up from her bed and write on a painting with watermelons: “Frida Kahlo, Coyoacán 1954 Mexico” and the iconic “Viva la Vida”.
This is the last painting Frida signed and this is the last message she wanted us to have: VIVA LA VIDA!
No matter how arduous and painful life can be, Frida message is a celebration of life, indeed she lived her life to the fullest, never letting the circumstances have the best of her. Once she wrote: “the meaning of life is to live”, and she just did that against all odds.
Her last entry in her diary was:
“Espero alegre la salida y espero no volver jamás",
I hope the exit is joyful and I hope never to return - Frida.
Painting left: #135: Frida Kahlo, Self Portrait with Stalin, 1954, Oil on masonite, 59 x 39 cm,
Painting right: #137: Frida Kahlo, Viva la Vida, Watermelons, 1954, Oil on masonite, 59,5 x 50,8 cm. Licensed replica by ©Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2008.
Photo taken in the Kunstmuseum Gehrke-Remund, Baden-Baden, Germany
Photo: (c) Kunstmuseum Gehrke-Remund, Germany
The paintings are licensed replicas from © Banco de Mexico, Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2008.
Over the years the Museum founders have added to this private collection so that today the Museum counts over 1000 exhibits, including entire rooms of the Blue House reconstructed from vintage photos to the smallest detail.
Probably one of the most iconic additions to the exhibition was the canopy bed of Frida Kahlo reproduced to the millimeter in the same materials and style as her own bed in Mexico City. Today the exhibition shows more than 30 Mexican dresses, a Mexican rebozo (scarf) dated ca.1827, two photographs from Nickolas Muray from the Nikolas Muray Archives and over 120 photos of Frida, her family, her friends, and Mexico between 1900 to 1950.
During the years in Baden-Baden the Museum and the Frida Kahlo exhibition were the preferred place for schools visits, families Sunday outings, first dates and, following the trail of love, even for a surprise marriage proposal, an actual wedding and a married couple for 23 years, finally bought their first wedding rings in the museum shop for $4 each.
All these events, and many more, happened under the vigilant, penetrating, mysterious eyes of Frida Kahlo looking from the paintings.
This year, the 5th anniversary of the opening of the Museum was celebrated in San Diego; since October 2013 until May 2014 all the exhibits in show and Frida’s story could be seen at NTC Liberty Station in San Diego for the pleasure of the visitors coming from Mexico and California.
One of over 200 photos of the collection.
"Nada vale mas que la risa." Frida Kahlo
"Nothing is worth more than laughter.
It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light. Tragedy is the most ridiculous thing.” Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo painted " A few small Nips" in 1935 to illustrate her feelings towards her husband affair with her sister Cristina.
The painting in essence illustrates how easily and lightly Diego mortally hurt her. In the painting the injuries are physically deadly, in Frida's case the mortal pain is emotional (“I have been murdered by life” wrote Frida in one of her letters.)
The painting also shows how this deadly pain inflicted is considered, by the perpetrator (i.e. Diego) irrelevant, not important, just “a few small nips”.
We know that Frida Kahlo often worked on her paintings over the years, adding items and always strengthening her statement. “A Few Small Nips” is an example of this development which we can follow from the photos taken between 1935 and 1948 since she kept this painting in her Blue House.
Painting: Frida Kahlo, A few small Nips, 1935; Licensed replica: ©Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2008.
Originally the painting had a normal wooden frame in brown colour and few blood spots; over time she added a small bamboo bird cage on the top left, to match exactly the white dove, which now is inside the cage. As we see from the photo and the reconstruction we made of the cage in the painting, the door of the cage is slightly open but not enough to allow the dove to fly away and be free.
This imagery of being prisoner of her love for Diego can be also found in the Painting Nr. 87: “Diego in my thoughts”.
She also planted a knife on the frame of the painting, a reminder of how much Diego hurt her.
Over the years she kept adding blood on the painting, she painted the frame in red-blood, and added blood-coloured spots on the frame as well.
She also stabbed and damaged the frame with the knife; every knife mark was a reminder of the pain Diego inflicted her with his “irrelevant” affairs.
The painting “A few small Nips” must be shown in its completeness, as Frida had it in display in her studio: with the cage and the knife, to be able to understand the full meaning Frida gave this painting.