Frida Kahlo’s Paris Years

Porochista Khakpour at Bookforum:

We also fall in love again with the irreverent, brilliant Kahlo, who is both charming and insolent in every anecdote. She feels Breton’s accommodations and manners are beneath her and ends up sexually entangled with his wife, Jacqueline Lamba (Breton gets to watch). And there is much delight to be had in Kahlo’s repeatedly expressing her disdain for French culture, especially its artistic circles. “I [would] rather sit on the floor in the market of Toluca and sell tortillas, than to have anything to do with those ‘artistic’ bitches of Paris.” (Bitches seems to be her favorite word for Parisians!) Indeed, the French seem to misunderstand her; the poet Robert Desnos says to Petitjean’s father at one point, “Your friend’s pretty, she could have stepped right out of a display at your Museum of Ethnography.” But we are assured Petitjean is “more attracted to her personality and her culture than her exotic ‘ethnic’ appearance.” In normal circumstances, this would seem shaky, but given the character of Michel, we buy it. Both Petitjeans gain our trust so fully that we don’t question their Occidentalist magnanimity at certain awkward points; while France and the French are belittled by our French author, Kahlo’s Mexico is championed as a center for the arts.

more here.