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by PATRICK COCKBURN
Islamic fundamentalists have opened new fronts in their battle to establish an Islamic state across Iraq and Syria as they launch attacks in cities which were previously under the control of the Baghdad government.
A multi-pronged assault across central and northern Iraq in the past four days shows that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) has taken over from the al-Qa’ida organisation founded by Osama bin Laden as the most powerful and effective extreme jihadi group in the world.
Isis now controls or can operate with impunity in a great stretch of territory in western Iraq and eastern Syria, making it militarily the most successful jihadi movement ever.
Led since 2010 by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, also known as Abu Dua, it has proved itself even more violent and sectarian than what US officials call the “core” al-Qa’ida, led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is based in Pakistan. Isis is highly fanatical, killing Shia Muslims and Christians whenever possible, as well as militarily efficient and under tight direction by top leaders.
In Iraq in the past four days, it has fought its way into the northern capital of Mosul, sent a column of its fighters into the central city of Samarra and taken over Iraq’s largest university at Ramadi, in the west of the country. In addition, it launched devastating bombings targeting Shia civilians in Baghdad that killed at least 52 people.
The creation of a sort of proto-Caliphate by extreme jihadis in northern Syria and Iraq is provoking fears in surrounding countries such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey that they will become targets of battle-hardened Sunni fighters.
The well-coordinated attacks appear designed to keep the Iraqi security forces off balance, uncertain where the next attack will come. They started on Thursday when Isis fighters in trucks with heavy machine guns stormed into the city of Samarra, which is mostly Sunni but contains the golden-domed al-Askari shrine sacred to Shia. Destruction of this shrine by al-Qa’ida bombers in 2006 led to wholesale massacres of Sunni by Shia.
The Isis tactic is to make a surprise attack, inflict maximum casualties and spread fear before withdrawing without suffering heavy losses. On Friday, they attacked in Mosul, where their power is already strong enough to tax local businesses, from family groceries to mobile phone and construction companies. Some 200 people were killed in the fighting, according to local hospitals, though the government gives a figure of 59 dead, 21 of them policemen and 38 insurgents.
This assault was followed by an early-morning attack on Saturday on the University of Anbar at Ramadi that has 10,000 students. Ahmed al-Mehamdi, a student who was taken hostage, told a news agency that he was woken up by the sound of shots, looked out the window and saw armed men dressed in black running across the campus. They entered his dormitory, said they belonged to Isis, told everybody to stay in their rooms but took others away.
One leader told female students: “We will teach you a lesson you’ll never forget.” They turned the science building into their headquarters, but may later have retreated. On the same day, seven bombs exploded in an hour in Baghdad, killing at least 52 people.
Isis specialises in using militarily untrained foreign volunteers as suicide bombers either moving on foot wearing suicide vests, or driving vehicles packed with explosives. Often more than one suicide bomber is used, as happened yesterday when a vehicle exploded at the headquarters of a Kurdish party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in the town of Jalawla in the divided and much fought-over province of Diyala, north-east of Baghdad. In the confusion caused by the blast, a second bomber on foot slipped into the office and blew himself up, killing some 18 people, including a senior police officer.
The swift rise of Isis since Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi became its leader has come because the uprising of the Sunni in Syria in 2011 led the Iraqi Sunni to protest about their political and economic marginalisation since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Peaceful demonstrations from the end of 2012 won few concessions, with Iraq’s Shia-dominated government convinced that the protesters wanted not reform but a revolution returning their community to power. The five or six million Iraqi Sunni became more alienated and sympathetic towards armed action by Isis.
Isis launched a well-planned campaign last year including a successful assault on Abu Ghraib prison last summer to free leaders and experienced fighters. This January, they took over Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, and have held it ever since in the face of artillery and air attack. The military sophistication of Isis in Iraq is much greater than al-Qa’ida, the organisation out of which it grew, which reached the peak of its success in 2006-07 before the Americans turned many of the Sunni tribes against it.
Isis has the great advantage of being able to operate on both sides of the Syrian-Iraq border, though in Syria it is engaged in an intra-jihadi civil war with Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham and other groups. But Isis controls Raqqa, the only provincial capital taken by the opposition, and much of eastern Syria outside enclaves held by the Kurds close to the Turkish border.
Isis is today a little more circumspect in killing all who work for the government including rubbish collectors, something that alienated the Sunni population previously. But horrifically violent, though professionally made propaganda videos show Isis forcing families with sons in the Iraqi army to dig their own graves before they are shot. The message is that their enemies can expect no mercy.
The violence continued yesterday as at least 18 people were killed in two explosions at the headquarters of a Kurdish political party in Iraq’s ethnically mixed province of Diyala. Isis claimed responsibility.
Most of the victims of Sunday’s attack were members of the Kurdish security forces who were guarding the office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party in the town of Jalawla.
The explosions were the latest in a show of strength by militants who in recent days have overrun parts of two major cities, occupied a university campus in western Iraq and set off a dozen car bombs in Baghdad.
Jalawla lies in disputed territory, and is one of several towns where Iraqi troops and Kurdish peshmerga regional guards have previously faced off, asserting their claims over the area. Both are a target for Sunni Islamist insurgents.
Egyptian protesters wave their hands and hold national flags during a demonstration against then-President Mohamed Morsi in Tahrir Square in Cairo.
Heba Morayef Called the June 30 2013 Revolution against Morsi and His Ikhwan a Military coup
How Honest and Neutral are their reports and for whose Benefit.
Over the years, U.S. “public diplomacy” has pulled reputable “non-governmental organizations” into the U.S. propaganda orbit, sometimes via funding and sometimes by creating a revolving door to government jobs and “respectability,” as a letter from over 100 scholars suggests happened to Human Rights Watch.
Heba Morayef, Egypt Director, Human Rights Watch an American government Operative.
Dear Kenneth Roth [of Human Rights Watch],
Human Rights Watch characterizes itself as “one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights.” However, HRW’s close ties to the U.S. government call into question its independence.
For example, HRW’s Washington advocacy director, Tom Malinowski, previously served as a special assistant to President Bill Clinton and as a speechwriter to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. In 2013, he left HRW after being nominated as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights & Labor under John Kerry.
Tom Malinowski, longtime director of Human Rights Watch’s Washington office, was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor on April 3, 2014.
Tom Malinowski, longtime director of Human Rights Watch’s Washington office, was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor on April 3, 2014.
In her HRW.org biography, Board of Directors’ Vice Chair Susan Manilow describes herself as “a longtime friend to Bill Clinton” who is “highly involved” in his political party, and “has hosted dozens of events” for the Democratic National Committee.
Currently, HRW Americas’ advisory committee includes Myles Frechette, a former U.S. ambassador to Colombia, and Michael Shifter, one-time Latin America director for the U.S. government-financed National Endowment for Democracy. Miguel Díaz, a Central Intelligence Agency analyst in the 1990s, sat on HRW Americas’ advisory committee from 2003-11. Now at the State Department, Díaz serves as “an interlocutor between the intelligence community and non-government experts.”
Tom Malinowski, longtime director of Human Rights Watch’s Washington office, was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor on April 3, 2014.
In his capacity as an HRW advocacy director, Malinowski contended in 2009 that “under limited circumstances” there was “a legitimate place” for CIA renditions—the illegal practice of kidnapping and transferring terrorism suspects around the planet. Malinowski was quoted paraphrasing the U.S. government’s argument that designing an alternative to sending suspects to “foreign dungeons to be tortured” was “going to take some time.”
HRW has not extended similar consideration to Venezuela. In a 2012 letter to President Chávez, HRW criticized the country’s candidacy for the UN Human Rights Council, alleging that Venezuela had fallen “far short of acceptable standards” and questioning its “ability to serve as a credible voice on human rights.” At no point has U.S. membership in the same council merited censure from HRW, despite Washington’s secret, global assassination program, its preservation of renditions, and its illegal detention of individuals at Guantánamo Bay.
Likewise, in February 2013, HRW correctly described as “unlawful” Syria’s use of missiles in its civil war. However, HRW remained silent on the clear violation of international law constituted by the U.S. threat of missile strikes on Syria in August.
The few examples above, limited to only recent history, might be forgiven as inconsistencies or oversights that could naturally occur in any large, busy organization. But HRW’s close relationships with the U.S. government suffuse such instances with the appearance of a conflict of interest.
We therefore encourage you to institute immediate, concrete measures to strongly assert HRW’s independence. Closing what seems to be a revolving door would be a reasonable first step: Bar those who have crafted or executed U.S. foreign policy from serving as HRW staff, advisors or board members. At a bare minimum, mandate lengthy “cooling-off” periods before and after any associate moves between HRW and that arm of the government.
Your largest donor, investor George Soros, argued in 2010 that “to be more effective, I think the organization has to be seen as more international, less an American organization.” We concur. We urge you to implement the aforementioned proposal to ensure a reputation for genuine independence.
. Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Nobel Peace Prize laureate
. Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize laureate
. Joel Andreas, Professor of Sociology, Johns Hopkins University
. Antony Anghie, Professor of Law, S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah
. John M. Archer, Professor of English, New York University
. Asma Barlas, Professor of Politics, Director of the Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity, Ithaca College
. Rosalyn Baxandall, Professor Emeritus of American Studies, State University of New York-Old Westbury
. Marc Becker, Professor of Latin American History, Truman State University
. Jason A. Beckett, Professor of Law, American University in Cairo
. Angélica Bernal, Professor of Political Science, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
. Keane Bhatt, activist, writer
. William Blum, author, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II
. Audrey Bomse, Co-chair, National Lawyers Guild Palestine Subcommittee
. Patrick Bond, Professor of Development Studies, Director of the Centre for Civil Society, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban
. Michael Brenner, Professor Emeritus of International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh
. Jean Bricmont, Professor of Theoretical Physics, University of Louvain; author, Humanitarian Imperialism
. Renate Bridenthal, Professor Emerita of History, Brooklyn College, CUNY
. Fernando Buen Abad Domínguez, Ph.D., author
. Paul Buhle, Professor Emeritus of American Civilization, Brown University
. David Camfield, Professor of Labour Studies, University of Manitoba
. Leonard L. Cavise, Professor of Law, DePaul College of Law
. Robert Chernomas, Professor of Economics, University of Manitoba
. Aviva Chomsky, Professor of History, Salem State University
. George Ciccariello-Maher, Professor of Political Science, Drexel University
. Jeff Cohen, Associate Professor of Journalism, Ithaca College
. Marjorie Cohn, Professor of Law, Thomas Jefferson School of Law
. Lisa Duggan, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University
. Carolyn Eisenberg, Professor of History, Hofstra University
. Matthew Evangelista, Professor of History and Political Science, Cornell University
. Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law, Princeton University
. Sujatha Fernandes, Professor of Sociology, Queens College, CUNY Graduate Center
. Mara Fridell, Professor of Sociology, University of Manitoba
. Frances Geteles, Professor Emeritus, Department of Special Programs, CUNY City College
. Lesley Gill, Professor of Anthropology, Vanderbilt University
. Piero Gleijeses, Professor of American Foreign Policy and Latin American Studies, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University
. Jeff Goodwin, Professor of Sociology, New York University
. Katherine Gordy, Professor of Political Science, San Francisco State University
. Manu Goswami, Professor of History, New York University
. Greg Grandin, Professor of History, New York University
. Simon Granovsky-Larsen, Professor of Latin American Studies, Centennial College, Toronto
. James N. Green, Professor of Latin American History, Brown University
. A. Tom Grunfeld, Professor of History, SUNY Empire State College
. Julie Guard, Professor of Labor Studies, University of Manitoba
. Peter Hallward, Professor of Philosophy, Kingston University; author, Damming the Flood
. John L. Hammond, Professor of Sociology, Hunter College, CUNY Graduate Center
. Beth Harris, Professor of Politics, Ithaca College
. Martin Hart-Landsberg, Professor Economics, Lewis and Clark College
. Chris Hedges, journalist; author, War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning
. Doug Henwood, journalist; author, Wall Street
. Edward Herman, Professor Emeritus of Finance, University of Pennsylvania; co-author, The Political Economy of Human Rights
. Susan Heuman, Ph.D., independent scholar of history
. Forrest Hylton, Lecturer in History & Literature, Harvard University
. Matthew Frye Jacobson, Professor of American Studies and History, Yale University
. Jennifer Jolly, Co-coordinator of Latin American Studies, Ithaca College
. Rebecca E. Karl, Professor of History, New York University
. J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Professor of Anthropology and American Studies, Wesleyan University
. Ari Kelman, Professor of History, University of California, Davis
. Arang Keshavarzian, Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, New York University
. Laleh Khalili, Professor of Middle East Politics, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
. Daniel Kovalik, Professor of International Human Rights, University of Pittsburgh School of Law
. Rob Kroes, Professor Emeritus of American Studies, University of Amsterdam
. Peter Kuznick, Professor of History, American University
. Deborah T. Levenson, Professor of History, Boston College
. David Ludden, Professor of History, New York University
. Catherine Lutz, Professor of Anthropology and International Studies, Brown University
. Arthur MacEwan, Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of Massachusetts-Boston
. Viviana MacManus, Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
. Chase Madar, civil rights attorney; author, The Passion of [Chelsea] Manning
. Alfred W. McCoy, Professor of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison
. Teresa Meade, Professor of History, Union College
. Thomas Murphy, Professor of History and Government, University of Maryland, University College Europe
. Allan Nairn, independent investigative journalist
. Usha Natarajan, Professor of International Law, American University in Cairo
. Diane M. Nelson, Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Duke University
. Joseph Nevins, Professor of Geography, Vassar College
. Mary Nolan, Professor of History, New York University
. Anthony O’Brien, Professor Emeritus of English, Queens College, CUNY
. Paul O’Connell, Reader in Law, School of Law, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
. Christian Parenti, Professor of Sustainable Development, School for International Training Graduate Institute
. David Peterson, independent writer and researcher
. Adrienne Pine, Professor of Anthropology, American University
. Claire Potter, Professor of History, The New School
. Margaret Power, Professor of History, Illinois Institute of Technology
. Pablo Pozzi, Professor of History, Universidad de Buenos Aires
. Gyan Prakash, Professor of History, Princeton University
. Vijay Prashad, Edward Said Chair of American Studies, American University of Beirut
. Peter Ranis, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, CUNY Graduate Center
. Michael Ratner, human rights attorney; author, The Prosecution of Donald Rumsfeld
. Sanjay Reddy, Professor of Economics, New School for Social Research
. Adolph Reed, Jr., Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania
. Nazih Richani, Director of Latin American Studies, Kean University
. Moss Roberts, Professor of Chinese, New York University
. Corey Robin, Professor of Political Science, Brooklyn College, CUNY Graduate Center
. William I. Robinson, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara
. Patricia Rodriguez, Professor of Politics, Ithaca College
. Andrew Ross, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University
. Elizabeth Sanders, Professor of Government, Cornell University
. Dean Saranillio, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University
. T.M. Scruggs, Professor Emeritus of Music, University of Iowa
. Ian J. Seda-Irizarry, Professor of Political Economy, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
. Denise A. Segura, Professor of Sociology; Chair, Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
. Mark Selden, Senior Research Associate, East Asia Program, Cornell University
. Falguni A. Sheth, Professor of Philosophy and Political Theory, Hampshire College
. Naoko Shibusawa, Professor of History, Brown University
. Dina M. Siddiqi, Professor of Anthropology, BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh
. Francisco Sierra Caballero, Director of the Center for Communication, Politics and Social Change, University of Seville
. Brad Simpson, Professor of History, University of Connecticut
. Nikhil Pal Singh, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and History, New York University
. Leslie Sklair, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, London School of Economics
. Norman Solomon, author, War Made Easy
. Judy Somberg, Chair, National Lawyers Guild Task Force on the Americas
. Jeb Sprague, author, Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti
. Oliver Stone, filmmaker; co-author, The Untold History of the United States
. Steve Striffler, Professor of Anthropology, Chair of Latin American Studies, University of New Orleans
. Sinclair Thomson, Professor of History, New York University
. Miguel Tinker Salas, Professor of History and Latin American Studies, Pomona College
. James S. Uleman, Professor of Psychology, New York University
. Alejandro Velasco, Professor of History, New York University
. Robert Vitalis, Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania
. Hans Christof von Sponeck, former United Nations Assistant Secretary General (1998-2000)
. Hilbourne Watson, Professor Emeritus of International Relations, Bucknell University
. Barbara Weinstein, Professor of History, New York University
. Mark Weisbrot, Ph.D., Co-director, Center for Economic and Policy Research
. Kirsten Weld, Professor of History, Harvard University
. Gregory Wilpert, Ph.D, author, Changing Venezuela by Taking Power
. John Womack, Jr., Professor Emeritus of Latin American History and Economics, Harvard University
. Michael Yates, Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown
. Kevin Young, Ph.D., Latin American History, State University of New York-Stony Brook
. Marilyn B. Young, Professor of History, New York University
. Vazira Fazila-Yacoobali Zamindar, Professor of History; Co-Director, South Asian Studies, Brown University
. Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics and Coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies, University of San Francisco
Frida Kahlo, Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, Nickolas Muray Collection, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin
Frida Kahlo de Rivera (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈfɾiða ˈkalo]; born Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón; July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954) was a Mexican painter who is best known for her self-portraits.
Kahlo’s life began and ended in Mexico City, in her home known as the Blue House. She gave her birth date as July 7, 1910, but her birth certificate shows July 6, 1907; Kahlo had allegedly wanted the year of her birth to coincide with the year of the beginning of the Mexican Revolution so that her life would begin with the birth of modern Mexico. Her work has been celebrated in Mexico as emblematic of national and indigenous tradition and by feminists for its uncompromising depiction of the female experience and form.
Mexican culture and Amerindian cultural tradition are important in her work, which has been sometimes characterized as naïve art or folk art. Her work has also been described as surrealist, and in 1938 André Breton, principal initiator of the surrealist movement, described Kahlo’s art as a “ribbon around a bomb”.
Kahlo had a volatile marriage with the famous Mexican artist Diego Rivera. She suffered lifelong health problems, many caused by a traffic accident she survived as a teenager. Recovering from her injuries isolated her from other people, and this isolation influenced her works, many of which are self-portraits of one sort or another. Kahlo suggested, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.” She also stated, “I was born a bitch. I was born a painter.”
henry Ford Hospital 1932
Childhood and family
Frida Kahlo was born on July 6, 1907, in her parents’ house known as La Casa Azul (The Blue House), in Coyoacán. At the time, Coyoacán was a small town on the outskirts of Mexico City.
Kahlo’s father, Guillermo Kahlo (1871–1941), was born Carl Wilhelm Kahlo in 1871, in Pforzheim, Germany, the son of Jakob Heinrich Kahlo and Henriette Kaufmann. During Kahlo’s lifetime and subsequently, media reports stated that her father was Jewish. However, genealogical research indicates that her father was not of Jewish heritage, but was from a Lutheran family.
Carl Wilhelm Kahlo traveled to Mexico during 1891, at the age of nineteen, and upon his arrival, changed his German forename, Wilhelm, to its Spanish equivalent,Guillermo.
Frida’s mother, Matilde Calderón y González, was a devout Roman Catholic of mixed Amerindian and Spanish ancestry. Frida’s parents were married soon after the death of Guillermo’s first wife, which occurred during the birth of her second child. Although their marriage was quite unhappy, Guillermo and Matilde had four daughters; Frida was the third.
Frida had two older half sisters who were raised in the same household. Frida remarked that she grew up in a world surrounded by females. However, during most of her life, Frida remained on amicable terms with her father.
The Mexican Revolution began during 1910, when Kahlo was three years old. Kahlo later claimed that she was born in 1910, allegedly so that people would associate her with the revolution. In her writings, she recalled that her mother would usher her and her sisters inside the house as gunfire echoed in the streets of her hometown.
Mexican bank note in Honour of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera
Kahlo contracted polio at age six, which left her right leg thinner than the left; she disguised this later in life by wearing long, colorful skirts. It has been conjectured that she was born with spina bifida, a congenital condition that could have affected both spinal and leg development. She participated in boxing and other sports.
In 1922, Kahlo was enrolled in the Preparatoria, one of Mexico’s premier schools, where she was one of only thirty-five girls. Kahlo joined a clique at the school and became enamored of its strongest personality, Alejandro Gómez Arias. During this period, Kahlo also witnessed violent armed struggles in the streets of Mexico City as the Mexican Revolution continued.
On September 17, 1925, Kahlo was riding in a bus that collided with a trolley car. She suffered serious injuries as a result of the accident, including a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone, broken ribs, a broken pelvis, eleven fractures in her right leg, a crushed and dislocated right foot, and a dislocated shoulder. Also, an iron handrail pierced her abdomen and her uterus, compromising her reproductive capacity.
The accident left her in a great deal of pain, and she spent three months recovering in a full body cast. Although she recovered from her injuries and eventually regained her ability to walk, she had relapses of extreme pain for the remainder of her life. The pain was intense and often left her confined to a hospital or bedridden for months at a time. She had as many as 35 operations as a result of the accident, mainly on her back, her right leg, and her right foot.
The medical complications and permanent damage also prevented Kahlo from having a child; though she conceived three times, all her pregnancies had to be terminated.
Career as painter
Frida Kahlo with Diego Rivera in 1932, in a photograph by Carl Van Vechten
After the accident, Kahlo abandoned the study of medicine to begin a painting career. She painted to occupy her time during her temporary immobilization. Her self-portraits were a dominant part of her life when she was immobile for three months after her accident. Kahlo once said, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.”
My Grandparents My Parents and Me, 1936
Her mother had a special easel made for her so she could paint in bed, and her father lent her his box of oil paints and some brushes.
Drawn from personal experiences, including her marriage, her miscarriages, and her numerous operations, Kahlo’s works are often characterized by their suggestions of pain.
Self-Portrait with Cropped
Kahlo created at least 140 paintings, along with dozens of drawings and studies. Of her paintings, 55 are self-portraits which often incorporate symbolic portrayals of physical and psychological wounds. She insisted, “I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.”
Diego Rivera had a great influence on Frida’s painting style. Frida had always admired Diego and his work. She first approached Diego in the Public Ministry of Education, where he had been working on a mural in 1927. She showed him four of her paintings, and asked whether he considered her gifted. Diego was impressed and said, “You have got talent.”
After that, he became a frequent welcomed guest at Frida’s house. He gave her many insights about her artwork while still leaving her space to explore herself. There is no doubt that the positive and encouraging comments made by Diego strengthened Frida’s wish to pursue a career as an artist.
Fulang Chang and I, 1937
Kahlo was also influenced by indigenous Mexican culture, which is apparent in her use of bright colors, dramatic symbolism and primitive style. She frequently included the symbolic monkey. In Mexican mythology, monkeys are symbols of lust, but Kahlo portrayed them as tender and protective symbols. Christian and Jewish themes are often depicted in her work. She combined elements of the classic religious Mexican tradition with surrealist renderings.
Without Hope, 1945
In 1938, Kahlo had her first and only solo gallery showing in the United States at the Julien Levy Gallery. The works were well received and the event was attended by several prominent artists.
At the invitation of André Breton, she went to France during 1939 and was featured at an exhibition of her paintings in Paris. The Louvre bought one of her paintings, The Frame, which was displayed at the exhibit. This was the first work by a twentieth-century Mexican artist to be purchased by the renowned museum.
Malú Block (left), Frida Kahlo (center), and Diego Rivera were photographed in Manhattan by Carl Van Vechten in 1932 while Rivera was working on a commissioned mural in Rockefeller Center
As a young artist, Kahlo communicated with the Mexican painter, Diego Rivera, whose work she admired, asking him for advice about pursuing art as a career. He recognized her talent. He encouraged her artistic development and they began an intimate relationship. They were married in 1929, despite the disapproval of Frida’s mother.
A Few Small Nips, 1935
Their marriage was often troubled. Kahlo and Rivera both had irritable temperaments and numerous extramarital affairs. The bisexual Kahlo had affairs with both men and women, including Isamu Noguchi and Josephine Baker;
Rivera knew of and tolerated her relationships with women, but her relationships with men made him jealous. For her part, Kahlo was furious when she learned that Rivera had an affair with her younger sister, Cristina. The couple divorced in November 1939, but remarried in December 1940. Their second marriage was as troubled as the first. Their living quarters were often separate, although sometimes adjacent.
Broken Column, 1944
Later years and death
Active communists, Kahlo and Rivera befriended Leon Trotsky during the late 1930s, after he fled Norway to Mexico to receive political asylum from the Soviet Union, where he was expelled and sentenced to death during Joseph Stalin’s leadership. During 1937, Trotsky lived initially with Rivera and then at Kahlo’s home (where he and Kahlo had an affair). Trotsky and his wife then relocated to another house in Coyoacán where, in 1940, he was assassinated. Both Kahlo and Rivera broke with Trotskyism and openly became supporters of Stalin in 1939.
The Little Deer.
Kahlo died on July 13, 1954, soon after turning 47, and was cremated according to her wishes. A few days before her death, she wrote in her diary: “I hope the exit is joyful — and I hope never to return — Frida”. The official cause of death was given as a pulmonary embolism, although some suspected that she died from an overdose that may or may not have been accidental. An autopsy was never performed. She had been very ill throughout the previous year, and her right leg had been amputated at the knee, owing to gangrene. She had had a bout of bronchopneumonia about that time, which had left her quite frail.
In his autobiography, Diego Rivera would write that the day Kahlo died was the most tragic day of his life, adding that, too late, he had realized that the most wonderful part of his life had been his love for her.
A pre-Columbian urn holding her ashes is on display in her former home, La Casa Azul (The Blue House), in Coyoacán, which since 1958 has been maintained at a museum housing a number of her works of art and numerous mementos and artifacts from her personal life.
Image of Frida for Day of the Deadat the Museo Frida Kahlo
Aside from the 1939 acquisition by the Louvre, Kahlo’s work was not widely acclaimed until decades after her death. Often she was remembered only as Diego Rivera’s wife. It was not until the end of the 1970s and the early 1980s, when the artistic style in Mexico known as Neomexicanismo began, that she became well-known to the public. It was during this time that artists such as Kahlo, Abraham Ángel, Ángel Zárraga, and others gained recognition, and Jesus Helguera’s classical calendar paintings became famous.
Also during the 1980s, additional factors helped to make her better known. The first retrospective of Kahlo’s work outside Mexico (exhibited alongside the photographs of Tina Modotti) opened at the Whitechapel Gallery in London in May 1982, organized and co-curated by Peter Wollen and Laura Mulvey. The exhibition also was shown in Sweden, Germany, Manhattan, and Mexico City.
The movie Frida, naturaleza viva (1983), directed by Paul Leduc with Ofelia Medina as Frida and painter Juan José Gurrola as Diego, was a great success. For the rest of her life, Medina has remained in a quasi-perpetual Frida role. Also during the same time, Hayden Herrera published an influential biography, Frida: The Biography of Frida Kahlo (1983), which became a worldwide bestseller.
Raquel Tibol, a Mexican artist and personal friend of Frida, wroteFrida Kahlo: una vida abierta (2003). Other works about her include a biography by Mexican art critic and psychoanalyst Teresa del Conde and texts by other Mexican critics and theorists, such as Jorge Alberto Manrique.
Frida Kahlo, The Suicide of Dorothy Hale, 1939, Oil on masonite, 60.4 × 48.6 cm. – The Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, Arizona, USA the legend translated:
In the city of New York on the twenty-first day of the month of October, 1938, at six o’clock in the morning, Mrs. Dorothy Hale committed suicide by throwing herself out of a very high window of the Hampshire House building. In her memory Mrs. Clare Boothe Lucecommissioned this retablo, executed by Frida Kahlo.”
From 1990–91, Kahlo’s Diego on my Mind (1943), oil on masonite, 76 by 61 centimeters piece was used as the representative piece on the post for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Mexico: Splendors of Thirty Centuries art exhibit. In 1991, the opera Frida by Robert Xavier Rodriguez, which had been commissioned by the American Music Theater Festival, premiered in Philadelphia.
In 1994, American jazz flautist and composer James Newton released an album inspired by Kahlo titled Suite for Frida Kahlo on AudioQuest Music (now known as Sledgehammer Blues).
On June 21, 2001, she became the first Hispanic woman to be honored with a U.S. postage stamp.
Frida (2002) is an American biographical movie, directed by Julie Taymor, in which Salma Hayek portrayed the artist. The film, based on Herrera’s book, grossed US$ 58 million worldwide.
During June 9 to October 9, 2005, an international exhibition of Kahlo’s work was presented at the Tate Modern in London. It brought together 87 of her works for the display.
In 2006, Kahlo’s painting Roots (1943) set a US$ 5.6 million auction record for a Latin American work.
In 2008, a play based on Kahlo’s life premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Frida Kahlo: Viva la vida!, written by Mexican Humberto Robles and performed by Gael Le Cornec, received an Artistic Excellence Award and a best female performer nomination at the Brighton Festival Fringe in 200. During May 8 to July 5, 2009, Nickolas Muray’s photographs of Kahlo were featured alongside her Self-Portrait of Monkey (1938), in an exhibition at the Albright–Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York.
Self-Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky 1937
Barbara Kingsolver’s novel, The Lacuna (2009), features Kahlo, her life with Rivera, and her affair with Trotsky.
On July 6, 2010, to commemorate the anniversary of her birthday, Google altered its standard logo to include a portrait of Frida, depicted in her style of art.
On August 30, 2010, the Bank of Mexico issued a new MXN$ 500-peso note, featuring Frida and her painting entitled Love’s Embrace of the Universe, Earth, (Mexico), I, Diego, and Mr. Xólotl (1949) on the back of the note while her husband Diego was on the front of the note.
In February 2011, soprano Dawn Upshaw and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra premiered La Centinela y La Paloma (The Keeper and the Dove), composed by Latin Grammy composer Gabriela Lena Frank with texts by Pulitzer Prize playwright Nilo Cruz. The orchestral song cycle imagines Frida Kahlo as a spirit who returns to visit with Diego Rivera during El Día de los Muertos.
From July 9 to October 2, 2011, an exhibition of works by Frida Kahlo (1907–1954) and Diego Rivera (1886–1957), Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: Masterpieces from the Gelman Collection, was shown at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, West Sussex.
From October 20, 2012 to January 20, 2013, Frida’s paintings, as well as photographs of the iconic Mexican painter, were featured in a dual retrospective with partner Diego Rivera, entitled Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics, and Painting, at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. This exhibition later traveled to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, February 14 to May 12, 2013.
In late April 2014, a musical play written and composed by Los Angeles, California playwright Rita Ortez Provost, entitled Tree of Hope, was in West Hollywood, California at the MACHA Theatre.
Self Portrait with Stalin 1954
The Finnish composer Kalevi Aho is composing a four-act chamber opera, called Frida y Diego, scheduled to première in the autumn season 2014 at the Helsinki Music Centre. The libretto, in Spanish, is by Maritza Nuñez.
Kahlo’s 100th birthday was commemorated with the largest exhibit ever held of her paintings at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, Kahlo’s first comprehensive exhibit in Mexico. Works were on loan from Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Miami, San Francisco, and Nagoya, Japan. The exhibit included one-third of her artistic production, as well as manuscripts and letters that had not been displayed previously. The exhibit was open June 13 through August 12, 2007, and surpassed all previous attendance records at the museum. Some of her work was exhibited in Monterrey, Nuevo León, and moved during September 2007 to museums in the United States.
In 2008, a Frida Kahlo exhibition in the United States with more than 40 of her self-portraits, still lives, and portraits was shown at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and other venue. A “Frida Kahlo Retrospective” exhibit at the Walter-Gropius-Bau, Berlin from April 30 to August 9, 2010, has brought together more than 120 drawings and paintings, including several drawings never before displayed publicly. Regarding Kahlo’s “preferred” birth year (she claimed to be born in 1910 during the Mexican Revolution), the Berlin show is also being touted as a “centennial” exhibition.
La Casa Azul
Casa Azul (“Blue House”) in Coyoacán, Mexico City, is the family home where Frida Kahlo grew up and to which she returned in her final years. Frida’s father, Guillermo Kahlo, built the house in 1907 as the Kahlo family home.
Leon Trotsky stayed at this house when he first arrived in Mexico in 1937. The home was donated by Diego Rivera upon his death in 1957, three years after that of Frida, and the house is now a museum housing artifacts of her life. Her former home is a popular destination for tourists.