‘The only one’: Lupe Marín’s voice resurfaces above Diego Rivera’s brushes | Culture


A tremor of nature: shameless, wild, natural, creative, unprejudiced, talented, hypnotic, jealous, free, unruly, essential. By dint of adjectives, unspeakable. So was Lupe Marín, who led Diego Rivera, the enormous Mexican muralist, the great communist, to a marriage for the Church. Writers and painters came to the couple’s house in the 1920s more to talk with her than with the artist, such was the magnet with which she trapped everyone who knew her. About that union, and about her second husband, the renowned Mexican poet Jorge Cuesta, was the book that she self-published in 1938, where Marín turned all her truths to the discomfort of the cultural and political world of the time, which buried the volume amid criticism and silence. So the reissue of The only one, proposed by the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), the first can be said. Readers have an opportunity, now unique, to discover this marvelous woman from her own pen, without being drawn by Diego Rivera’s brushes.

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Guadalupe Marín Preciado was born in Ciudad Guzmán, Guadalajara (Mexico), in 1895. The day Rivera saw her for the first time, he was captivated. She ate a fruit with her hands, pulling the skin to the ground, spitting out the stone, dripping its juice without modesty. Her tall and slim figure, with long fingers and green eyes, brunette with black hair, shocked the muralist, who saw in her the entire Mexico, with her exuberance and color. Marín, until then foreign to culture, but never to talent, became a wife and model, with whom the painter had his only two daughters and heiresses. Nobody like her criticized the murals that her “Panzón”, in full glory, left in the most important buildings in Mexico and the United States. And Rivera listened to her. Dishes were also thrown at their heads. She could not bear absences, infidelities or the bad life that the artist gave her, but she was with him until the day of his death. She was the only one, the essential.

When Frida Kahlo came into their lives and married Rivera, Marín did not disappear. He cooked for them, after going to the market in the morning, those dishes that enraptured locals and strangers. He also sewed like no one else and the clothes he wore were overflowing with his creativity spent in Paris and on his trips to Europe, where the painter’s model was well received for that condition. Soon, the personalities to whom she was presented realized the almost unreal attractiveness that this woman exuded. And it astonished the cream of the France of that time. When Kahlo died, Rivera asked her again. She refused.

Lupe Marín, the one who read Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Pushkin, her Russian beloveds, detested the communists who frequented the conjugal home, whom she saw as leeches of money and Rivera’s fame. She left that marriage to marry Jorge Cuesta, a poet and critic as famous as he was tortured, who emasculated himself in a bathtub and hanged himself in the asylum where he was admitted. His wife, who always refused to read his verses, never mentioned him again. The son they had fell into oblivion, abandoned by the mother and father in their grandparents’ house. No regrets or guilt. But with a certain feeling that Marín described like this, on some occasion when he tried to recover it: I want my son to be brought in soon, whatever the cost; I can not wait more. It is not because I have love for him that I feel that need, but because I do not have it. If I were sure I wanted him, I wouldn’t be able to want him to be with me just for my pleasure. But when I think that I have a son that I do not love and for whom I do not have the animal feeling of a mother, I despair ”.

On the left, the new edition of 'La unique', by Guadalupe Marín (2021).  On the right, a portrait of its author.
On the left, the new edition of ‘La unique’, by Guadalupe Marín (2021). On the right, a portrait of its author.COURTESY UNAM BOOKS

In 2016, Elena Poniatowska published a biography of Lupe Marín that she titled Twice unique. It is an exciting book that exerts the same power of attraction as the character it strips, with all its angles, lights and shadows, as if the model had once again posed for a painting. Poniatowska loved that woman very much, a personality, she says, as she has never known another. “She invited you to eat at her house and you fell in love with her. It was flattering that he spoke to you and looked for you. A lodestone. Smarter than any critic, who did not seek fame, only manifested himself in all his naturalness. She trained the literati and intellectuals that surrounded her, because she was infinitely more creative and less prejudiced than they were ”, she assures. Xavier Villaurrutia, Jaime Torres Bodet, José Vasconcelos, Salvador Novo, Mariano Azuela, and many others who came under the generation of Los Contemporáneos, an Archipelago of Solitudes, as they were also called, passed through that universe who found in Marín the audacity of an accurate and sharp tongue. “Lupe was a guillotine.”

The unbridled temper had a bitter side, of course, because not everyone was able to swim that flood. His daughters, Guadalupe and Ruth, were two good examples of this. The first, whom he was able to tie to a street fence while he went to look for jewels at Monte de Piedad, had to take refuge in psychologists to survive a mother who castrated his free development. It is not easy to live in the shade of the big trees. Poniatowska, a great connoisseur of the family and its future, thinks that Marín acted without malice. “I never felt offensive to anyone, nor do I think that was her wish,” he says. The offense is transferred to the feeling of the other: “If you felt upset that was already your problem. She said: that suit is badly cut, but she was not criticizing the person, but the suit. Or if someone who was already green wore a green dress, because they told you that you were a spinach ”, continues the writer. “If you got close to the fire you could get burned, of course, but that was a matter of your own weakness,” he insists.

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A personality “so out of the ordinary that it created its own rules”, according to Poniatowska, has remained, however, far from the ornaments that crowned the head of the suffering Frida Kahlo, turned into a world myth that does not go away . “Frida was the suffering and pain, she knew how to communicate, she made of herself almost a religion. Going to see her was a gesture of solidarity, if not charity, a woman broken into a thousand pieces, deceived by the fat man who was cheating on her ”, defends the writer. Lupe Marín had the luxury of making fun of that myth, to whom she lifted her skirts and exclaimed something like this: “See why Diego has changed my legs.” Kahlo painted it on a canvas that was stabbed sewn in a fit of anger from the portrayed woman.

Portrait of Guadalupe Marín by Frida Kahlo.
Portrait of Guadalupe Marín by Frida Kahlo.

Marín, like Kahlo, also endured her corsets: she was the victim of a conventional society in which her enormous physical and mental stature did not fit. She ended up in the silence from which new readers now want to get her out. The Mexican writer Anaclara Muro, prologue of this new edition of The only one, expresses an enjoyment that is common to his generation: searching in the old macho critics for the clue that leads them to a neglected writer. A new discovery to put in the bookstore.

The general director of Publications of the UNAM and also a writer, Socorro Venegas, explains it like this: “It shines on the pages of The only one the courage, the authenticity of a woman who wrote without fear, at a time when she had everything to lose, when she faced alone a patriarchal and conservative society. That is a fundamental lesson for anyone, man or woman, who wants to become a writer ”. The book, from the Vindictas collection, which Poniatowska will present on June 24, is already in bookstores. A unique opportunity.

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