Self-Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky (Between the Curtains), 1937 Frida Kahlo

Self-Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky (Between the Curtains) 1937 Frida Kahlo

Like a dress-up doll and between curtains that seem more like the curtain of the great stage that reveals the prima ballerina of the show, Frida Kahlo appears to the nines. With her best dress, painted nails, beautiful earrings, especially elegant and made up: red lips and blush, with a braided hairstyle and flowers that we can even perceive her perfume.

We would immediately think that this work, like so many others, was made for her great love, Diego Rivera. But no, in this case the title tells us that it is a self-portrait dedicated to Leon Trotsky. These days, Frida and Diego were estranged (and how could they not be when you received the news that your husband and your sister had a relationship) and in a few years they would end up divorcing, and then remarrying. However, they were united by a great friendship and that is why Rivera will turn to his partner to provide political asylum to Soviet leader Leon Trotsky, who was escaping from Russia. On January 9, 1937, Trotsky and his wife, Natalia Sedova, arrived at the Casa Azul of the Kahlo family in the town of Coyoacán. It is known that there was a love relationship between Frida and Trotsky that lasted a few months and, perhaps, this work will be a dedicated gift for her lover, or a provocation for her husband?

As is characteristic of her work, Frida describes to us in small “posters” the wishes and intentions of her productions. In this case, she is holding a bouquet of flowers together with a piece of paper that, as an epigraph, gives us the key to this self-portrait:

«To León Trotsky with all my love, I dedicate this painting, on November 7, 1937. Frida Kahlo. In San Angel, Mexico»

This is then a birthday present for her guest on the 20th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. It will not be the first or the last time that Frida Kahlo chooses to give her image as a gift. In fact, her portrait has become the image of her work. It is the same artist who reveals that the self-portrait is one of the most chosen genres in her repertoire because: I am what I know best.

A year later, the founder of surrealism, André Breton, arrived in Mexico. Very interested in meeting Trotsky, Bretón stayed at the Casa Azul in Coyoacán and when he met Frida and with this work he told us: «On the wall of Trotsky’s work room I have admired a self-portrait of Frida Kahlo de Rivera. With a cloak of golden butterfly wings, thus adorned she opens a crack in the inner curtain. It is given to us as in the beautiful days of German romanticism, to attend the entrance on the scene of a beautiful young woman endowed with all the powers of seduction»

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