Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

Trotsky, Rivera and Breton

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This photo of Leon Trotsky, Diego Rivera, and André Breton was taken by Fritz Bach in 1938. Diego Rivera supported Trotsky, alienating himself from the Communist mainstream in Mexico; he requested the Mexican President Cardenas to grant Trotsky’s asylum. The Russian and his wife Natalia lived with Rivera and wife Frida Kahlo, rent-free and under 24-hour guard, for the next two years.

Breton, a member of the French Communist Party from 1927 to 1935, who had previously worked with Trotsky to create the International Federation of Independent Revolutionary Art, was visiting from Paris. This is the famous trip where Kahlo was ‘discovered’ by Breton. At Breton’s invitation, Kahlo went to France the next year and was featured at an exhibition of her paintings inParis. (The Louvre bought one of her paintings, The Frame, the first work by a 20th century Mexican artist ever purchased by the internationally renowned museum.) However, Breton didn’t care much about Kahlo–he didn’t even bother to pick Frida who didn’t speak French at the French customs, but his wife Jacqueline Lamba did. Lamba and Kahlo were close friends and are rumored to have had an affair.

Active communist sympathizers, Kahlo and Rivera befriended Leon Trotsky as he sought political sanctuary from Joseph Stalin. Initially, Trotsky lived with Rivera and then at Kahlo’s home, where he had a brief affair with Kahlo. “Little Goatee” she called him, and dedicated her self-Portrait (“Between the Curtains”) as a birthday gift to Trotsky. However, Kahlo soon tired of him (by then, she was calling him, “The Old Man”) and Trotsky’s suspicious wife, Natalia. Trotsky and  Natalia then moved to another house in Coyoacán. After Trotsky’s assassination in 1940 by a Stalinist agent, Kahlo was questioned by police for suspected involvement in the murder. She knew the assassin, Ramon Mercader in Paris and invited him into Trotsky’s refuge in Coyoacán. 

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

May 16, 2009 at 11:49 pm

2 Responses

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  1. [...] Bloggery/Anti-Stalinism: A wonderful photo of Leon Trotsky, Diego Rivera and Andre Breton in Mexico. Standing with Trotsky’s victims at Kronstadt. Dovid Katz: Prague’s Declaration of [...]

  2. [...] (Via Iconic Photos) About Rivera’s unnamed “extraordinarily handsome wife”.  Frida Kahlo was an unknown at the time, but her work briefly captured the attention of André Breton, who just happened to be in town in 1938 when the photo above was taken by the otherwise unknown Fritz Bach: [...]


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