BY JUSTIN LESSNER
Frida Kahlo’s paintings perfectly show the artist’s whirlwind of emotions throughout her life. Her art gives a look into her passions, her pains and her loves, which went far beyond Diego Rivera.
It’s long been known that the prolific artist had many loves throughout her life, both men and women, and including many major personalities of their time. Everyone from Tina Modotti and the politician León Trotsky were on that list in addition to her longtime companion, Diego Rivera. However, one of Kahlo’s great loves and of whom little is said was the singer Chavela Vargas.
Chavela, who was 12 years younger than Frida, spoke on several occasions about the love she had for Kahlo when her musical career began to take off, while she was “a child.” And thanks to recently discovered love letters we have a new perspective on this little known relationship.
New love letters give us details into the romance between Frida Kahlo and Chavela Vargas.
Although Chavela had claimed to have destroyed all of the love letters she received from Frida Kahlo, new love letters have recently been discovered that paint a new light on the romance.
There is one letter Kahlo had written to Carlos Pellicer, a Mexican poet, to express her feelings about the singer. She told him that after meeting Chavela she felt attracted to her from the very first moment – in some pretty steamy language.
“Today I met Chavela Vargas. Extraordinary, lesbian, what’s more, I wanted her erotically. I don’t know if she felt what I did. But I think she’s a liberal enough woman, that if she asks me, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to undress in front of her. How many times do you not want to get laid and that’s it? She, I repeat, is erotic. Is it a gift that heaven sends me?”, wrote Kahlo.
It was shortly after Kahlo wrote that letter that Chavela went to live with her and Diego at La Casa Azul. In another recently discovered letter, Vargas writes – of her time at Casa Azul – that she felt very happy and in love, as well as loved by Kahlo.
“She taught me a lot of things and I learned a so much. Without giving away too much, I held the sky with my hands, with every word, every morning,” she said.
The lovers had an intense relationship that has fascinated fans to this day.
The two had met at one of the many parties Kahlo and Rivera would host at their home in Casa Azul. The couple were prolific entertainers and often threw extravagant parties.
Before her death, Vargas detailed that night’s meeting.
“A painter friend invited me. She said: ‘There’s a party at Frida’s house tonight. Shall we go?’ I went and the atmosphere was full of people. The night passed, we sang, everyone danced, everyone entertained,” Vargas says in the documentary Chavela, released in 2017.
“I was in a daze when I saw her face, her eyes. I thought she couldn’t be a being from this world. Her eyebrows together were a swallow in flight. Without yet having the maturity of a woman in me, since I was a very young girl, I sensed that I could love that being with the most devoted love in the world, the strongest love in the world,” said the singer about Frida.
Although the romance didn’t last long thanks in part to the painter’s relationship with Diego Rivera.
Vargas confessed that the romance didn’t last for a long time on the account of having to share the painter’s love with Diego Rivera. According to Vargas, one day Kahlo simply decided to abandon her.
“My words possibly hurt her a lot when I told her I was leaving and she told me: ‘I know. It is impossible to tie you to anybody’s life. I can’t tie you to my crutches or to my bed. Go away!’ And one day I opened the door and didn’t come back,” Vargas said.
Although the singer never spoke about whether she had intimate relationships with the painter, the romance, as well as the great love and attraction they felt for each other is something that cannot be denied.