I’m very sorry I couldn’t send you the 250 coins that you so generously lent me.You know that I have applied for the Guggenheim Fellowship, and I hope it all works out by June. I wanted to ask you to wait until then because I’d send you 100 “macanas” every month in order to easily pay the expenses. You’ll say I’m an abuser, but you need to understand, darling, that after Diego and I got divorced it has been very difficult for me to balance my expenses because I didn’t want to take a penny from him even though he proposed it.
By the end of this year perhaps the difficulties will change becauseI’m going to have an exhibition in NewYork in November at the Julien Levy Gallery and then I’ll be able to cover some of the expenses. So, please, don’t think for a moment that it’s taking advantage on my part, that I wouldn’t have given your money back.
If you have a moment, write to me, don’t be a bad girl. I was happy because you liked the small painting of naked girls, I was also so mean to you with that painting because I promised it long ago.
Tell me, my dear, how you are and if you are planning of coming to Mexico and so on. We all miss you very much. Diego calls me from time to time and we see a bit of each other. He gave me much sufferings so that it’s not easy to forgive him, but I love him even more than my own life, he knows it and that’s why he’s adjusting, you know that he’s like a spoiled child.
Write to me my dear and I send you a thousand kisses and all my love.
Say hello to your mommy and Carmen Figueroa too.
DOLORES DARLING PLEASE FORGIVE ME FOR THIS INCONVENIENCE, COULD YOU LEND ME TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY BUCKS? I NEED IT TO SOLVE AN URGENT CASE I’LL PAY YOU BACK IN TWO MONTHS STOP IF YOU’D BE SO KIND, PLEASE WIRE THEM TO 127 COYOACAN LONDON THANK YOU VERY MUCH A LETTER EXPLAINING DARING REQUEST FOLLOWS KISSES= FRIDA RIVERA.
Coyoacán, March 25th, 1947
It’s hard to reach you by phone in your office, and I won’t bother you at home during the hours you relax. (That’ s why I’m sending you this letter). Yesterday I saw Diego and he told me you visited him a few days ago, it made him happy.
Hey brother, he also told me that you promised him that you’d buy my painting “Las dos Fridas” for the Museum, and that you also wanted the painting “Los Ràban” that is now located in the Gabriel Orenda in Gallery.
Personally, I didn’t want to have to talk to you about the issue that is related to my painting, but yesterday, when I saw Diego, he told me he has no money, and that he can barely pay the hospital, and that he has no more money to pay the Pedregal workers (for next Saturday).
You can imagine what I’m feeling, I know that he’s in one hell of a situation! I’d like to ask you if it might be possible for you to speed up the purchase of the “Las dos Fridas” painting, you’d solve a huge problem.
If that is too hard for you – tell me honestly as soon as you read this piece of paper, because in that case, I’ll do what I can to finish the two paintings that I started to earn money (I’ll see if I can finish them by Saturday otherwise let’s see what I can do to get money for Diego).
I really hope you can solve the problem because I’m kind of in a tough spot right now.
Thank you very much my dear, I love you so much.
Coyoacán. Dec. 1952.
Alma Reed’s just called me and told me that now is the best time for you to lend me your painting, I can’t tell you how grateful I am because this is the first time that Lola Alvarez Bravo does a full exhibition of my stuff.
(Never, as you know, has there been one in Mexico). May this letter serve you as a receipt to retrieve your painting. How are you – I’ve been living trapped in bed for ages, except for certain days when some friends took me out for a walk.
My affectionate greetings to everyone in your house. To you – as always –
My special affection.
You can deliver the painting to the bearer of this letter in trust.
Mexico. March. 17. 1936
My dear friend
Here goes the reply…
In a kind of joker style,
Quick and detailed anyway.
I had your missive delivered
To Diego, with great haste,
and without being too abusive,
I’ll cut to the chase.
Of the drawing the price
Seems to him well advised,
He’ll give you a hard time
Not to step aside.
Yet he fears and doubts
that Rockefeller the old witch,
being foolish and stubborn,
will give permission… that bitch.
What you know about the matter
Tell him on the plane
So that the deal will go
as smooth as silk, mate:
Send him the contracts
By registered letter
To close the deals
And to sign the papers.
Ask for little advance
Fifty bucks first,
if this sounds crazy to you
find another way.
With this I say goodbye
To write more I refuse
Here ends the ballad
of Carlos Chávez and Diego.
Hey friend, tell me where I can get the Antigone book so Diego can take a look at it, and from the verses you already know what Diego said in your last letter. If you’re missing any more details, please let me know.
Obviously, he’s already agreed and tell the guy to send the contracts.
Basically, Diego won’t have to do anything other than a drawing of Antigone, right? Well, the rest is up to Mrs Rockefeller and you’ll have to get her permission.
That’s it, I think; right now, I don’t have time to tell you a great deal of gossip, in any case I send my best to you and Diego the same.
Frida (the mighty)
Also deal with the fifty bucks Diego is asking for in advance.
Greetings to Chamaco and Rose.
February 28th, 1936.
My dear friend,
Diego asked me to reply since if he did it himself, his eyes could hurt.
First of all: thank you for your greetings and for remembering me.
I will now answer your requests for Diego. He says because it’s you, he will agree to do the drawings for one hundred dollars each, since it is a third part of what the Griganchos pay for this kind of work, but seeing that it is your book, he will do them for 100 eagles each.
Regarding H.P. he will do as you say (the horse and the accumulator) but he would like you to suggest something for the cover of “antigona”. All the details regarding the dimensions etc., have been already sent so that there will be no need for anything else and he can start to draw them as soon as his eyes are better.
How I envy you there in New York instead of fucking Mexico, so shocking, but let’s see if one of these days
I will be able to bring my bones there.
The political situation here has been getting better, and the congress for the unification of workers turned out to be simple defence under the command of Lombardo. If there are “hard hits”, you will need to proceed with the illusory re-entry and then commit yourself to leading a very particular orchestra with cannons and artillery. But you can rest easy for now because the time of chingadazos hasn’t come yet. I read in the newspaper that you were going to conduct the Philadelphia orchestra and I was really happy about it. They sent you lots of flowers, you know what they’re like, when you are gone, you are the wonder of the century, and when you are here, they throw beans at you, those sons of a better woman.
There’s not much gossip about you here, but I’ll tell you about what I know once you are back. I am sending you the paper on which I am writing this powerful letter, make them believe it’s from the municipality, but stop thinking about it because it’s not like that, I simply didn’t find any
decent paper and I wanted you to receive an answer as soon as possible because otherwise the delay would have been remarkable.
I am sorry that the people of Detroit are so devastated, however I think that New York has made you feel better, hasn’t it?
Listen, I need to ask a huge favour of you, if you can, but if you can’t tell me, but try. In your free your time (which is quite difficult), I want you to find the people listed below and send them my regards. They are nice people and friends of mine,
#1.- Call Bertram and Ella Wolfe and tell them I send them lots of kisses – number: Nevins8-3062- you can find them on Sundays or early mornings.
#2. Call Jeanne de Lanux–number: Chelsea2-8280. (Tell her I send kisses and that I would like to know how she, Pierre and Bikon are).
#3. Contact Dr Albert Claude. Rockfeller Institute .number: Regent 48000.
Tell him Diego and I send him our regards, and that I send him a kiss and 500 to his wife Joy, and also tell them that they didn’t even tell me they had a baby, and not to forget to send me a picture of their newborn.
#4. Send my regards to whoever you want and buy me for 5 or 10 $ two notebooks because mine are old.
I forgot to tell you I had leg surgery. I have a longer leg and a shorter leg now, because they removed five phalanges, one for each toe, but I can walk better now. I was stuck on a chair for two months, but I am up and around again now.
This is all I have to say for now, but if you write to me, I will tell you more.
Behave, General, stay in the shadow and protect yourself from the cold.
Diego sends you a strong hug.
November 26th, 1934.
Insurgentes 432. México
My dearest Dottorino,
I am desolated, first of all because I didn’t even thank you when the precious song book arrived, especially because I couldn’t send you the drawing. You may think I was negligent or rude, but I would like to tell you the reason why I didn’t do so.
I drew many of them, they were all terrible so I decided to destroy them all before sending them to you. Then I was stuck in bed for two days with the flu and two days later I got up and the first thing I did was obviously to draw, I don’t know what’s happening to me but I can’t do it anymore. I draw everything, but not what I want, I even started to scream with rage but nothing good came out of it. Eventually I decided to talk to you about it and ask you to be merciful and forgive my rudeness, but believe me I don’t do it due to lack of will, but because I feel so sad and bored that I can’t even draw. The situation with Diego is getting worse day by day. I know I am responsible for what happened to him since I didn’t understand from the beginning what he wanted and because I opposed something that didn’t have remedy. After anguishing months, I have forgiven my sister. I thought things would change, but they haven’t. Perhaps that unpleasant situation eventually got better for Diego, but it was terrible for me. I am in a such sad and desperate mood that I don’t know what to do. I know Diego is more interested in her than me, but I should have known that he is not to blame, and I am the one who needs to make compromises if I want him to be happy. It is such a struggle; you have no idea how much it hurts me. Everything that is happening to me is so complicated that I don’t know how to explain it to you. I know she will understand me anyway and she will help me not to get influenced by stupid prejudices, however, how could I tell her the details of what’s happening to me to ease the burden I carry?
I won’t bore you with this nonsense, but please, I want you to understand that I wanted to draw the painting for you, but right now I have neither the strength nor the will, and you are so kind to me, you always have been, therefore I dare ask you to forgive me if I couldn’t satisfy your wish for the drawing, which represents less than the half of what you deserve, but I believe that this unpleasant mood will eventually fade and soon I will be back to who I used to be. I haven’t written to anybody. I am losing all of my friends and it’s my fault. You are the only person I can tell why and being able to talk about it frankly, makes me feel better, because I hope I don’t bore you and I hope you will forgive me with my nonsense because of this friendship we share.
Write to me as soon as possible, I am really glad to receive your letters.
I won’t write to you too often so as not to bore you too much with gossip that leads nowhere.
We can’t destroy humanity so it is just leave Diego, you and me, as we agreed, because Diego wouldn’t be happy about it .
I send you greetings from Frida, I wish you a happy new year and I wish you all the best,
I wonder what you’ll say about me, perhaps that I’m more a sax solo than a jazz band. Not even a thank you for your letters, not even for the child that made me so happy – not a single word in months and months. You’re absolutely right when you remind me of…my family. But you know that even if I’m not writing to you, that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about you. You know that I have the personality defect of being uniquely lazy when it comes to writing. But believe me, I have thought about you a lot and with the same love as always.
I hardly ever see Jean. Poor Jean hasn’t been able to find a steady job yet and is making plaster molds for toys copies in a factory. She’s going through a rough time and I really don’t think it’s something that’ll help her resolve her life. I’ve tried to make her see that her best option is to come running back to California, but she doesn’t want to be dragged back. She’s very thin and very nervous because she is lacking vitamins. The ones that are sold here are very expensive and that’s life, she can’t buy them. She says that it’s difficult for you to send them from there because of customs or something like that. But if someone came here soon and you could send her some it would do her good, because, like I said, her declining health is getting worse.
My foot or hoof is improving. However, in general I’m feeling pretty…jo-ven. I think this is because I haven’t been eating enough – I smoke a lot. And the strange thing is, I haven’t been drinking any large or small cocktails. I feel something in my stomach that hurts and a constant desire to burp (Pardon me, burp!!). My digestion is bad. My general mood is horrible. With each passing day I’m becoming more choleric (concerning Mexico), I’m not brave (as the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language would have it), that is to say, I’ m very curmudgeonly. If there’s any medical cure for humble people like me, please tell me, so that I might gulp it down immediately, and see what happens. As far as painting is concerned, I’m working on it. I’m producing a few paintings, but I feel that I’m learning that I’m not as naive as I was before. They want me to paint some portraits in the Dining Room of the National Palace (five of them). The five most distinguished women in Mexican history, they say, so there you have me looking up all kinds of crap on our vaunted heroines and what the heck they looked like, and what sort of psychological loads they carried, so that when I scrawl them onto the canvas, people might be able to tell them apart from our ordinary and vulgar everyday females of Mexico, and let me tell you, among them there are some more brave and interesting than the ladies in question; if among your books you have any information pertaining to the subject of Doña Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez, Doña Leona Vicario, Doña Malina Xóchitl or Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, please do me the immense favor of forwarding me some info on them or some photographs, engravings, etc. from their time, or of their effigies. With this work I’ll earn some money which I’ll use to purchase some trinkets that please my eyes, or sense of smell or touch, as well as some incredibly lovely flowerpots that I saw at the market the other day.
New married life is working well. Few quarrels. Greater mutual understanding and on my part, fewer nagging inquiries about other ladies which sometimes occupy an important place in his heart. So, you will understand that at last, I know that life is like that and everything else is a piece of cake. If I felt better, you might even say that I am happy, but this feeling of confusion from my head to my toes sometimes mixes me up in the head and makes for some bitter times. Hey, are you coming to the International Medical Symposium that will be held in this beautiful-orso they say-city of palaces? Come on and take a steel bird and (next stop) Main Square Mexico. What do you think? Yes, or yes?
Bring me some Lucky or Chesterfield smokes because here they’re a luxury, my friend and I can’t “afford” all this smoke all day long.
Tell me about your life. Tell me something that’s show me you always remember that in this land of Indians and gringo tourists, there’s a girl that’s your real, very best friend.
Ricardo was a bit jealous because he says that I use the informal ‘tu’ with you. But I explained everything that was explainable to him. I love him dearly and I told him that you already know that.
I have to go because I have to go downtown to buy brushes and paint for tomorrow and it’s getting late.
When are you going to write me a really long letter? Say hello to Stack and Ginette and to then nurses at Saint Luke’s. Especially to that nurse that was so great to me – you know who she is – I can’ t remember her name right now. It starts with M.
Good bye darling Doctorcito. Don’t forget me. Hugs and kisses from
The death of my father was devastating for me. I think that it’s why my health has taken a turn for the worse and I’ve become thinner again. Do you remember how nice and good he was?
16 JULIEN LEVY 15
EST 57TH ST
DEAREST PLEASE SELL ONE OF MY PAINTINGS FOR ME I NEED TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS URGENTLY TRY MADAME HELENA RUBINSTEIN WHO SAID SHE WANTED ONE OR ASK SOMEONE TO LEND YOU THE MONEY PLEASE AND THEN YOU CAN KEEP THE PROFIT IN EXCHANGE OF THE FAVOUR IT IS REALLY URGENT MY FATHER DIED I HAVE TO PAY MANY THINGS IF YOU CAN DO IT SEND THE MONEY TO ALLENDE 59 COYOACAN DF WITH LOVE.
HEADED PAPER: SEMINAR OF MEXICAN CULTURE
Private correspondence of the Coyoacán members, April 20, 1944
My Dearest Julien,
Here are the files you wanted for the painting. I tried to send you more photos, but now it is quite difficult to send something unless someone takes it to the United States personally. As soon as someone goes, I will send a couple of things that I have prepared. I haven’t painted much because my back bothers me so much and I’m wearing a damn (iron) corset and it has been hell for me, it’s so hard to work with such a gadget on your body! But I have to wear it, otherwise I would need an operation and I’m too scared to do it. So, honey, don’t blame me for not sending you things, and don’t tell me I have let you down. Jacqueline Breton is coming next June to be with us. I’m so happy because it will do her good, and wonderful for me to have her so close to me. I wish you could come too, when you can take a vacation? What are you doing now? What are you going to do this summer? And your book, what happened to it? Please, darling, write me all about yourself and about Muriel, and all about what you are doing and plan to do. I love you immensely.