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Self-Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky
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Arty Fact

ssohail's picture

Contributor

You gotta hand it to Frida Kahlo.

Despite her varied, colorful and Vogue-worthy outfits from Mexico, ever notice how her facial expression remains pretty much the same in all her self-portraits? She could’ve learned a thing or two from YouTube selfie tutorials. But we here at Sartle think her unwavering, unibrow-ed pout is a classic despite the redundancy. If it ain't broke...

But the frozen facial expression is not our main concern here today. Nope, it’s the fact that this painting is another episode of Frida and Diego Rivera’s "On-Again, Off-Again, Oops I F**ked Someone Else Again" love saga, featuring guest star Leon Trotsky. Even though Trotsky isn’t included, he’s still one of the stars of the painting since Frida dedicates the portrait to him. This is understandable because Trotsky was more than just a one-night stand. 

The exiled and almost elderly Trotsky and his wife Natalia were staying with the Rivera’s in Frida’s famous blue house, because Diego, a huge Trotsky fan, got the Mexican government to give him political asylum. Probably not the most well thought out plan, because Frida, feeling very recently betrayed and pissed as hell from Diego’s affair with her hotter, younger sister, Cristina, decided to make a move on her new house guest/husband’s hero. And what 58 year-old Marxist in his right mind would spurn the advances of a sensually and intellectually stimulating younger woman? So, he and Frida got it on by sneaking love letters in borrowed books, conversing in English in front of their befuddled spouses who could barely speak the language and, obviously, with quite a few romps of an adult nature. Apart from this, Frida had some choice nicknames for Trotsky like Piochitas (little goatee) and “love," both of which she used quite openly. Even in front of Diego, who was prone to furious jealousy when Frida was getting action from elsewhere. It sounds like the stuff of mediocre soap opera scripts, this affair, but it made it to the biopic Frida, starring Selma Hayek so we know it's legit.

Another obvious commemoration of this saucy affair is, of course, this painting. Frida, bedecked in her local duds, holds a teeny bouquet in one hand and a letter to Trotsky in the other, addressing him as “my love." Speaking of subtlety, Frida places herself in between parted curtains, which may look like a theatrical move, but there are two interesting layers to this choice of composition. The first one says that Frida collected images of the Virgin and/or Christian saints, similar in their compositional nature to this self-portrait. The second theory is one for the likes of a PhD proposal...or at least for a low-budget artsy porno. Some propose that the parted curtains are symbolic of the female genitalia. A "come hither" of sorts. I’d like to think that Leon would’ve read the image in context of theory number two. Socialists are so dirty.