A cache of love letters from Frida Kahlo to Spanish artist Jose Bartoli sold at Doyle New York on April 15 for $370,000, breaking their high estimate of $120,000.
As artnet News previously reported (see Frida Kahlo Love Letters Go to Auction at Doyle New York), the dispatches were kept in secret by Bartoli until his death in 1995. The 25 letters total more 100 pages, and include keepsakes like photographs, drawings, and pressed flowers.
Penned in Spanish, they shed new light on both Kahlo’s personal life and her artistic practice. She writes of a pregnancy, her tumultuous relationship with her husband, Diego Rivera, and the emotionally draining process of producing artwork.
Kahlo and Bartoli met in New York in 1946 when she was recovering from spinal surgery. After she returned to Mexico, the pair kept in touch for three years, aided in part by Kahlo’s sister Cristina, who introduced them.
“My Bartoli,” Kahlo wrote in October 1946. “I don’t know how to write love letters. But I wanted to tell you that my whole being opened for you. Since I fell in love with you everything is transformed and is full of beauty . . . love is like an aroma, like a current, like rain. You know, my sky, you rain on me and I, like the earth, receive you.”
More than 60 years after her death, Kahlo has been making headlines recently thanks to a Detroit Institute of Arts exhibition of works she and Rivera made during their time in Detroit (see The Striking Absence in the Detroit Intitute of Arts’s Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Blockbuster and Madonna Refused to Loan a Frida Kahlo Painting to Detroit Institute of Arts for Blockbuster Show).
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