The art world does not revolve around the creation of artwork for art’s sake, nor it does around the technical side of it, and the talents and accomplishments of certain individuals whose names are widely know. Names become big not because of the mastery of the skill, but because of the political ideology behind it and the outrage they had cause in their time. The skill and the level of genius is later on recognized by scholars who have all the time to scrutinize it and decide what accomplishments have been made, but it is really more in function of what they represented in Athe bigger scheme of an era. Art becomes the timeless testimony of the constant search of humankind for ultimate truth. In this instance, ultimate truth takes the shape of political adherences.
Living in Mexico in the late 30’s and being an artist was synonymous of being a raging socialist, ready to sacrifice it all for “the cause” and what was the cause? What were the myths and where was truth? The reality is that everyone was in danger to become just the monster they most abhorred: oppression. The death of Leon Trotsky in August 21st, 1940 in the hands of another left-wing follower is the single most despicable act of oppression any furious activist could have ever conceived, not only because of what Trotsky represented, but the savagism with which the murder was perpetuated…with an ice-pick (!!)
During his political career, Trotsky was an influential political writer and was exiled from many countries on multiple occasions. After the death of Lenin, Trotsky was the single most important individual who had become almost a legend for his passionate and lectured insights in Marxism as polytical ideology, as well as his experience as a revolutionary hero. Stalin, being concerned with the influential figure of Trotsky, had consolidated his power in Russia, and he chased his most hated rival into exile. Communist communities around the world were violently divided in their loyalties. Mexican muralist Diego Rivera followed Trotsky, alienating himself from the Communist mainstream in Mexico. Mexican President Lazaro Cardenas granted Rivera’s request for Trotsky’s asylum in Mexico, and Trotsky lived with Rivera and wife Frida Kahlo, for the next two years.
Diego Rivera was a controversial figure in Mexico, other than being a communist; he allegedly had tried human flesh (ouch!) Diego was an atheist, and among his scandals, he caused an outrage in NY, when he was commissioned by Rockefeller to paint a mural in the Rockefeller Center, and decided to paint a portrait of Lenin in it (How charming… guess what…he lost the client!) Now, about eating human flesh…we have to understand that Diego loved controversy, but having interviewed people who worked in his murals as young students I have to pass the word that such part of the myth is NOT TRUE. Do not believe everything you read in history books.
Frida was another eccentric figure as well, had an affair with Trotsky, in the meantime that the relationship between Trotsky and Diego was becoming tense. There was a presidential election and Cardenas choice to succeed him was a conservative and religious believer candidate. Diego, to Trotsky’s dismay, sided with the Mexican Stalinists to oppose the president’s choice by supporting another candidate who was right-winged and in favor of the neo-Nazi movement (!) Trotsky did not want to go against the president who offered him asylum and deeply reprobated Diego’s choice of suck wicked allied forces against him. This cause the breakup of the friendship and Trotsky was asked to move out of Diego’s house. (Did he suspect what he was doing his wife? Mmmh)…by the way, on regard to Frida, remember the accident when she was eighteen that left her paralyzed for twenty years? …well she with her usual black humor claims that the metal bar that trespassed her body from side to side entered the hip and came out through her…ejem …she said that that is how she lost her virginity. NOT TRUE! A close friend who was traveling in the trolley at the time of the accident said that she was already incapable of having children due to a genetic malformation of her reproductive system…and not a virgin either. 😛 (with friends like that….)
David Alfaro Siqueiros, another respected muralist in Mexico, and certainly not a friend of Diego, was one of the Stalinists in Mexico. Following Stalin orders through an agent, he attempted murder on Trotsky along with a group or twenty other men armed with guns in May 1940, but failed. (Years later he told the press that he did not try to kill him, and that he was not following Stalin orders…he just wanted to scare him out of the country….yeah right) months later, Trotsky was brutally murdered by Ramón Mercader another furious Stalinist who claimed he acted alone and did not follow anyone’s orders.
This is why I call this the dangerous liaisons, who is a friend of who and who betrays who? No…life is better than a soap opera. Mix politics, lust, betrayal, lies and murder and the result is…a history class! But remember….do not believe everything in history books…as a matter of fact do not believe anything at all! I was not there myself; I am just passing the gossip to you guys!