On Friday, January 25th I went to Mexico City for the day, yes, for the day. I was there to submit my paperwork to become a Mexican citizen and I decided that if I had to spend that much money in one day (for the lawyer and flights) I was going to fit something fun into my day as well. There was no question what that would be, I would visit La Casa Azul (The Blue House) Frida Kahlo’s former home, which is now a museum. Frida grew up in this house, and then later lived there with her love and fellow artist Diego Rivera.
I have been intrigued by Frida ever since I first learned about her, but when I wrote an article about her for work, I fell in love with her, so I was very excited that I would finally have the opportunity to visit her former home.
After the lawyer was finished with me, I hopped on the metro (3 pesos!) and rode to the Coyoacan stop. From there I took a taxi (30 pesos) to Frida’s home. I was a little disturbed that there were other people there… I wanted Frida all to myself! I paid the 75 peso cover charge and 60 pesos extra for the privilege of taking photos (without flash).
As I stepped into the first room I actually had the chills. I couldn’t believe I was finally there! Interestingly enough, the very first painting was my favorite of the day. I even visited it once more on my way out of the museum.
The unfinished painting is called Frida and the Cesarean. Frida suffered multiple miscarriages in her life. I have never been what I would call an art lover, but there is something about Frida’s raw images that touch me deeply. Of course, I suffered two miscarriages before I had Bebé, so I know some of her pain.
This is another one of my favorites. There was only a print of the original in the museum. It’s titled The Flying Bed and graphically portrays the miscarriage Frida suffered while living in Detroit (Yes Frida spent time in my home state!).
Here is a picture of me with Frida’s Viva La Vida Watermelons piece. A nice guy who worked for the museum saw me trying to take pictures of myself with the paintings and offered to help. I am dressed like it’s winter because it is… it was freezing in Mexico City! I could actually see my breath when I arrived in the morning.
I love Frida’s art, but I could barely contain myself when I began to enter the rooms where she and her family lived. I loved the kitchen! Although gas stoves were already used when Frida and Diego lived here, they prefered to cook with wood.
My heart started to beat just a little bit faster when I entered a studio that was filled with among other items, books, an easel and a wheelchair, and Frida and Diego’s paints, pencils, etc. Just being there brought out my creativity… look for me in the mirror.
Frida underwent approximately 35 surgeries in her life due to a severe accident, polio and possibly spina bifida. She eventually regained her ability to walk but suffered greatly on and off for the rest of her life with severe chronic pain. She was often bedridden for months at a time, so her beds were something I was very drawn to. This is the bed where she spent many of her days and she often painted here. There is a mirror in the canopy. Her death mask now lies here.
I understood perfectly why she spend her days here (while spending nights in an adjecent room). This was her view…
In the room where she spent her nights, her ashes now lie on the table in a large urn shaped like a toad, her nickname for Diego. I was able to get myself into this picture as well.
There is a bathroom off of this bedroom that contained many of Frida’s belongings. Before Diego died he asked a friend to make sure nobody entered the bathroom for at least 15 years after his death. His friend made sure nobody opened the bathroom long after that, however recently, after some 50 years, many of Frida’s personal belongings found in the bathroom, including her clothing and diaries, are now on display for one year in a special exposition “Appearances can be Deceiving”. Clothing is such a personal item. I could scarely believe that I could almost reach out and touch her iconic outfits. They had photos on display with the clothing showing Frida wearing these very pieces.
These two entries from Frida’s diaries (My diary entries were certainly never this beautiful!) were particularly touching. The first says, “Who needs feet? I have wings to fly,” which she entered shortly before she had to have her right leg amputated due to a gangrene infection.
The exposition “Appearances can be Deceiving” was named for this next diary entry. Frida is contrasting her outward appearances with the state of her body beneath her clothes. It is said that Frida was all party and happiness and that her pain only came out in her art. Many of her clothes were chosen because of their ability to hide her braces, scars and deformities.
There was also a display of couture dresses created in Frida’s memory. These Givenchy pieces were spectacular.
Frida wore a prosthetic leg after her amputation. As you can see she wore it with style.
The matching boot.
After I had thoroughly explored the entire house, I bought myself a couple of trinkets in the gift shop and then took a few minutes to relax in Frida’s garden. It is peaceful, tranquil, warm and inviting.
I am really happy that I was able to visit La Casa Azul by myself. It was a very special experience during which I could be quiet, take my time and enjoy every moment. I imagined Frida welcoming me into her home dressed in her beautiful clothes. I imagined drinking and smoking with her into the wee hours of the morning. I imagined she and Diego cooking in the kitchen. I could imagine her painting in her bed and in between strokes gazing at the afternoon sunshine in the garden.
I could feel her pain, but her bravery, joy, strength and creativity came through much stronger.
“I hope the exit is joyful, and I hope never to return. Frida”