Frida Kahlo – the Mexican artist, communist and lover of Leon Trotksy – has recently been revived as the new feminist Che Guevara. With social justice activists deciding to capitalize upon her fame and use her as a ‘feminist symbol’ to put on clothing and posters in order to sell to delusional women who think she was ‘empowered’ and want to add a bit of that empowerment to their lives for only $9.99.
Kahlo has long been regarded as being jewish, because she herself claimed that her father Guillermo Kahlo was a Hungarian jew from Baden-Baden. (1) However it came to light in 2006 that this was a lie by Kahlo and that her father’s family contained no known jewish members, only solid German Lutherans.
To quote Julia Welner in the Jewish Chronicle:
‘For many years, it was considered that Frida Kahlo was an outsider in another sense as she claimed that her German-born father Guillermo Kahlo was from a Hungarian-Jewish background, stressing that her paternal grandparents were Jews from the city of Arad. This was so commonly accepted that the Jewish Museum, New York staged an exhibition which explored her Jewish identity and one of her paintings can be found on the cover of Rabbi and art historian Edward van Voolen’s book about Jewish art and culture. However, in 2006, a pair of German historians traced Kahlo’s lineage back to the 16th century and found that Guillermo Kahlo came from a long line of German Lutheran Protestants.’
‘Israeli art historian Gannit Ankori is an expert on the work of Kahlo and consultant advisor for this exhibition. She was the curator of the Jewish Museum exhibition and it was her research that showed the similarity between the composition of Kahlo’s painting My Grandparents, My Parents and I of 1936 in which she shows her family tree and the genealogical tables used by the Nazis when passing the Nuremberg laws that banned interracial marriage. The painting celebrates Kahlo’s mixed heritage. Once the new research was published, Ankori discovered that Kahlo mentioned her father’s Jewish background most frequently from 1936 onwards. Kahlo was a fervent Communist and it has been suggested that she might have invented a Hungarian-Jewish background to detract attention from her German antecedents as being German at that time would have been a source of shame and embarrassment.’ (3)
So, no, despite claiming to be jewish and being married to Diego Rivera (who was). (4)
Frida Kahlo wasn’t jewish.
- Isabel Alcantara, Sandra Egnolff, 2011, ‘Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’ , 1st Edition, Prestel: Munich, p. 8
- Nancy Deffebach, 2015, ‘María Izquierdo and Frida Kahlo: Challenging Visions in Modern Mexican Art’ , 1st Edition, University of Texas Press: Austin, p. 52