Reported to have met each other in 1939, Frida Kahlo and Josephine Baker were both brilliant artists who fell in love in a time that was absolutely against them. While married to the womanizing Diego Rivera, Kahlo went through untold turmoil and pain. It was when she moved to Paris that her luck had changed. Josephine Baker was working for the French Military Intelligence agency at the time. She would similarly grow and flourish in Paris. While the details of the relationship remain shrouded in history, this artistic relationship is utterly inspirational. The romance has even seen artistic representation in the movie, Frida.
The development of two master artists
The Paris of 1939 was fraught with troubles, but that didn’t stop these women from making the best of it. Frida, having recently divorced from her husband, Diego Rivera, came to Paris to showcase her work at the Louvre. The Frame gained popularity for her, and the Louvre bought it soon after. It has been the first painting by a 20th-century Mexican artist that was purchased by the museum.
Josephine Baker was, at the time, under the employ of French Military Intelligence as an “honorable correspondent.” She would try to tease out information about German troop locations and other military matters during her parties where she would meet officers regularly. She became exceptional at this, and her music career and reputation grew massively during this time.
Frida Kahlo and Josephine Baker: breaking down barriers
The early years of the 20th century were not generous towards LGBT people. In a time where ostracization was common and, outright hate and bigotry were normalized, Frida Kahlo and Josephine Baker were famous for being bisexual and defying all social conventions. Also, it was no secret that of Kahlo was openly bisexual and would often dress in men’s clothing. Josephine Baker’s adopted son, Claude, would corroborate the orientation of his mother: “She was what today you would call bisexual, and I will tell you why. Forget that I am her son, I am also a historian.”
In blatant defiance of social norms and in great solidarity to themselves, Frida Kahlo and Josephine Baker both lived genuinely. Both established their arts all over the world, never succumbing to the temptation to ‘fit in’ or sell out their morals.
Why their relationship was important?
In traditionally male-dominated fields, both music and art, these two women not only survived but thrived. Not only did they never conform to what society expected, but they surpassed it through sheer force of personality. In a time where racism and bigotry of all kinds were on the rise, Frida Kahlo and Josephine Baker, a Mexican artist, and a black singer – both bisexual – became incredibly famous and well established in their chosen pursuits. Although being very different, both women had a lot in common and were extremely talented when executing their Art. It’s important to highlight that greatness comes from everyone, everywhere, and their triumphs over significant hardship and adversity is a powerful and fantastic story for us all to learn from.
Shop the iconic Frida Kahlo Kokeshi doll