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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 July, 2004, 10:30 GMT 11:30 UK
Artist Kahlo remembered in Mexico
Frida Kahlo accessories
Frida Kahlo's anniversary has sparked commercialisation of her image
The 50th anniversary of the death of legendary artist Frida Kahlo is being marked with a series of events in her home nation, Mexico.

Kahlo, who was left disabled after a bus accident in her youth, died in Mexico City, aged 47, on 13 July 1954.

The wife of mural artist Diego Rivera and close friend of Leon Trotsky, Kahlo was known for her communist ideals.

Five exhibitions and four new books will mark the anniversary. Kahlo's life became an Oscar-nominated film in 2002.

Critics have said the artist has become the victim of crass commercialisation.

This week the artist's 75-year-old niece Isolda Pinedo Kahlo will launch a Frida Kahlo auction of accessories that will include jewellery, shawls and sunglasses.

Controversial book

Prices for these items start at $100 (£53.90) - the most that Kahlo ever received for one of her paintings during her lifetime was only $300 (£160).

The Kahlo family does not have rights for the painter's art.

"The family has the right to use the name commercially," said Alejandro Trad, who is Pinedo Kahlo's business representative.

Penedo Kahlo is also publishing a book called Frida Intima (Intimate Frida) which alleges the artist's husband helped her die, after spending her last hours in a semi-comatose state from painkillers.

Frida Kahlo's house
Fans make the pilgrimage to the artist's home

"We reveal a great family secret," said author Maria de Anda, who has helped compile the book.

Kahlo's mystique has gown in the last few years, with high-profile stars such as Madonna championing her work, while Salma Hayek made and starred in an Oscar-winning film about her.

She became "first a legend, then a myth, and now a cult figure," said author Hayden Herrera, who wrote a 1992 biography about her.

"It is surprising to see her transformed into a commercial trademark," said photographer Cristina Kahlo, a niece of the artist, who said Kahlo was a committed communist up until her death.

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