When my husband suggested a trip to Mexico City, the first thing on my itinerary list was Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul. I knew I wanted to see this magical house. We had scheduled the visit, the day after our epic squishing on the subway. We decided to hire a driver and tour guide after that day. The owners of the apartment we rented connected us to Juan Carolos of JC Travels Mexico to pick us up at the airport when we arrived, so we called him again for help to see Casa Azul. Thankfully, he knew the ins and outs and suggested that we arrive nearly 45 minutes before it opened at 10am. So glad he did. The line was already down the street when we arrived. We got into the house around 10:20am. It would have certainly been an even longer wait had we arrived later in the day.
There are of course many of her paintings but most are usually on exhibit at the National Museum, unfortunately, they were in Paris during the time of my visit in a traveling exhibit. Included at the Casa Azul were several treasures, including an unfinished family tree,
a rare Still Life the captivated my husband and brother in law
and a surreal pencil drawing called Dream.
Also included were many of the iconic photos taken of Frida by photographer, friend and sometimes, lover, Nickolas Muray.
Her dining room was so lively. I could imagine the entertaining dinners she and Diego gave in the space.
My husband and sister in law were in love with the kitchen, which had a long, what looked like a wood stove. Frida and Diego’s names are spelled out in shells on the wall.
It was her studio that was my favorite. Full of light from the huge windows yet shaded by the trees outside, it seemed the perfect room to create.
In her bedroom, a mirror is affixed to the canopy of her bed. Her mother had it done after Frida’s trolley accident when she was 19, so that she could paint self-portraits. Today, her bed holds her 1954 death mask. She was 47 years old.
One of the highlights of the visit was an exhibit on her clothes. Known for her colorful clothing, the exhibit highlighted the beauty and the pain behind these costumes with the title Appearances Can Be Deceiving. The title is after a pencil sketch by Frida unearthed in 2004. It depicts the layers under her outfits, her naked body, her shriveled right leg, damaged from polio, her corset needed to support her broken back. The exhibit showed each of these layers including body casts painted by Frida during her convalescence.
What struck me most about Frida’s life, was how painful it was, both from choices she made and circumstances that were thrust upon her. Yet, I was also impressed by her tenacity. Always pressing forward, striving. It’s inspiration for my own life. And yours.