Frida Kahlo - 'The Last Interview and Other Conversations'

Frida Kahlo - 'The Last Interview and Other Conversations'


The cover for 'The Last Interview'.

From Hayden Herrera’s introduction to this book:

The last image in Kahlo’s diary is a chaotically brushed black angel. The last words are, “I hope the exit is joyful—and xxviii Introduction I hope never to come back—Frida.” On July 13, 1954, Frida Kahlo died, probably from an intentional overdose. Rivera was distraught: “Too late now I realized that the most wonderful part of my life had been my love for Frida.”

In the first interview in this book, Frida Kahlo is described as ‘wife of the master muralist’; in 1930s popular newspaper style, she was cast as the diminutive wife, suited for living in Diego Rivera’s shadow. He was the love of her life, and they were both artists. Rivera was an artist before Kahlo, but as she obviously found her own style, the tone in the interviews begins to shift.

From an interview in 1938:

A newcomer to the art galleries of New York is Carmen Frida Kahlo de Rivera, wife of the weighty and mighty Diego, the master painter of Mexico. She is now having her first American showing at the Julien Levy Galleries. About this exhibit, she wrote: I have never had an exhibition before. I was always shy and afraid to show my things. The first time in my life I sold a work was a few weeks ago to Edward G. Robinson. I gave as a present three or four paintings to people I like, and that is all. I never knew I was a Surrealist till André Breton came to Mexico and told me I was. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint always whatever passes through my head, without any other consideration.

There are quite a number of memorable and near-astounding passages in this book. Kahlo was likely highly aware of what she said in interviews; she comes off intelligent and honest.

“I have suffered two serious accidents in my life,” says Frida, without ceasing to paint. “One where a tram hit me when I was sixteen years old: spinal fracture, twenty years of immobility… The other accident was Diego…”

I wish Frida Kahlo would have lived in a time when gender was nothing more than a social construct. At the same time, who am I to say what would have been best for her. She was obviously a pained person, an extremely talented and hardworking artist, whose art will live and spark many different emotions in people everywhere. If only there were more nuance and in-depth questions in this book! Still, it does bring a sprinkle of context to Kahlo’s explosive art.