Melissa Faithful for Art-Sheep
Courtesy of Doyle New York
“I will love you from the landscape that you see, from the mountains, the oceans and the clouds, from the most subtle of smiles and sometimes from the most profound desperation, from your creative sleep, from your deep or fleeting pleasure, from your own shadow and your own blood. I will look through the window of your eyes to see you.”
These are the words Frida Kahlo addresses her lover Catalan artist, José Bartoli. And as we all know about Frida Kahlo’s love and marriage with muralist painter Diego Rivera, many of us didn’t know that Kahlo’s marriage was not only open, but she had various and intense both short and long affairs during it. Her relationship with Bartoli was one of them, and it started when Kahlo was in New York, recovering from spinal surgery and it continued after she returned home to Mexico City. Their romantic correspondence was kept a secret, as Kahlo didn’t want her husband to find out.
This long-distance passionate relationship is best depicted in the letters the two levers exchanged during the 1940s. The letters express the admiration and adoration the two artists had for one another, while their thoughts and feelings are detailed in 100 pages of correspondence. I one of her letters, Kahlo wishes for a child with Bartoli, “If I was not in the condition I am in now and if it were a reality, nothing in my life would give me more joy. Can you imagine a little Bartoli or a Mara?” – Mara was a how Kahlo used to sign off her letters. It is short for ‘maravillosa’ (Spanish for ‘marvelous’), a nickaname Bartoli gave her.
As Kahlo’s biographer Hayden Herrera describes, the letters are “steamy with unbridled sensuality and, like Kahlo’s paintings, extraordinarily direct and physical.” These evident pieces of desire are the declaration of Kahlo and Bartoli’s love, a notion that as it looks like strengthened Kahlo and gave her hope for a long, happy life full of passion.