How Frida Kahlo’s Love Letter Shaped Romance for Punk Poet Patti Smith
Sealed with a kiss, the 1940 note reflects the “earthly human love” between Kahlo and fellow artist Diego Rivera
“My mother, a waitress, was very diligent about figuring out what I was into, so that she could buy me the right books. For my 16th birthday she found The Fabulous Life of Diego Rivera, this huge and very famous biography.
“I had already decided to be an artist, and I also dreamed of meeting another artist and being supportive of each other’s work. This book was perfect. All of the relationships Diego Rivera had were so interesting, but Frida Kahlo was by far the most compelling and enduring one. I loved her. I was taken by her beauty, her suffering, her work. As a tall girl with black braids, she gave me a new way to braid my hair. Sometimes I wore a straw hat, like Diego Rivera.”
Several years ago, I saw a Frida Kahlo exhibit at a museum in Reno and didn’t want to leave because her earthy, magical and highly symbolic work has spoken volumes to me over time. That Patti Smith also heard what Kahlo had to say through her work and her relationship with Rivera is not surprising, for Smith is a special soul.