It wasn’t until I read the book The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver, that I began to think about Frida’s role with the Mexican revolutionaries and the communist party. Frida’s paintings were a result of the pain she felt on an everyday basis due to a crippling train accident, and as a revolutionary, the pain she felt for her country. In order to understand or even appreciate Frida’s paintings (and for that matter Diego Rivera’s) you need to understand the context in which they were created.
The Lacuna is a historical fiction novel that, in a series of journal entries, tells the story of a boy without a true home destined to hide in the shadows of greatness. The unsung hero of the story, dubbed Soli by Frida, works as a servant in the home of the Riveras. The Lacuna portrays a different side of the Frida I had learned about, a side that was selfish and insecure, and decidedly easier to identify with. More interesting, though, was the Frida/ Diego story. Their relationship was volatile, to say the least, based on a mutual talent for inspiring the masses, but characterized by a silent power struggle and an endless ploy for the other’s attention.
The show at the High Museum features 120 paintings and drawings done by the zealous couple as well as photographs of Frida and Diego which promise to shed some light on their relationship and the radical times in which they were painting. The show is up until May 12, 2013. Go see it, because I cannot! And I highly recommend The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver.