(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait was drawn, painted, and written during the last decade of the Mexican painter’s life. During these years, her health, precarious since a 1925 accident, declined precipitously. She spent the years from 1944 until her death encased in a series of eight surgical corsets, often bedridden or confined to a wheelchair. In 1953, she was forced to have her gangrenous left leg amputated; her spirit never entirely recovered, and she died on July 13, 1954. The evidence of Kahlo’s declining physical and mental state is evident as the exuberant free associations and humor of the earlier pages of the diary give way to reflection and more painful images.

The entire written part of the journal is suffused with her relationship with her husband, the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. One of the most potent images, which she repeats through the journal, in defining their relationship is that of the chemical groups auxochrome and chromophore: “You were called auxochrome, the one who captures color. I chromophore—the one who gives color.” The one sketch in the diary that led to a painting depicts her vision of their relationship: She cradles Diego in her arms as he holds the fire of creativity in his hands; both are embraced by the Mexican earth goddess and the spirit of the universe.

In the six-page “Outline of my life,” Kahlo...

(The entire section is 530 words.)