Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Burning blue - Frida Kahlo's La Casa Azul in Coyoacan

I wonder if there can be a single art lover who hasn't been touched by Frida Kahlo's (1907-1954) fiercely colorful and deeply personal paintings. Raising from a life of severe physical suffering and long periods of immobility - Frida went through both polio as a child and a severe traffic accident when she was 18 that left her handicapped and in permanent pain for the rest of her life - her art became the language in which she formulated and expressed her thoughts, ideas and beliefs. La Casa Azul, the Blue House, was Frida's home where she was born, lived and painted - many years together with her famous artist husband Diego Rivera -and finally died.

It is not known if Frida actually gardened at La Casa Azul - given her fragile health, she couldn't have physically done much. But with its Pre-Columbian sculptures and Mexican pottery, her garden is a seamless extension of her home. It is a place where she spent much of her time, entertaining guests with Diego and even teaching pupils. Together, the house and gardens form a homage to her boundless love for and admiration of the Mexican culture, history, nature and people; all themes that are central in her life and art.  

Wildly popular already in her own time, countless articles and even filmatizations have made Frida into an icon of Mexican art, almost like a madonna of art and suffering. Floods of reverent visitors make their pilgrimage to her vibrant home while visiting Mexico City, and my visit there last week wouldn't have been complete without sharing this experience. What took me by surprise was the intimacy of the place despite its huge popularity; even now, almost 50 years after Frida's death, her atelier and gardens still radiated a touching sense of intense emotion and creativity. Wandering through the rooms and gardens, I felt like she only just had left. Maybe, she never really did. Viva la vida, Frida.   

Viva la vida, painted by Frida Kahlo shortly before her death in 1954, hangs still in La Casa Azul. 

A bowl with a lid made out of a gourd, with a pomegranate knob, on a beautifully embroidered table cloth.

One of the smaller rooms, like a corridor between a bed room and the kitchen. A so called 'Judas figure', a skeleton reminding of Judas who betrayed Jesus, hangs in the corner; several of them were around the house and gardens. 

Pre-Columbian and other artesanal masks filled many of the walls.

Frida's kitchen, an bold and beautiful symphony to honor Mexican pottery and other handicrafts. Color therapy at its best, and my new favorite - a wilder version of Monet's kitchen in Giverny.

A touching and intimate moment of the tour - Frida's atelier with her paints and even her wheel chair left as they were when she last worked here.

One of Frida's characteristic dresses - she loved to dress in costumes from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, wanting to show her solidarity to the native people.

 Frida's night time bed, with a butterfly collection that she got as a present from her close friend architect Isamu Noguchi.

Frida's daytime bed - because of her pains, she spent a lot of time in bed - with her death mask. From here, she could see directly into her garden, with her parrots and pet monkey.

Frida's sofa that she got as three year old.

Frida's atelier and day time bed room in the background, facing a fountain and the garden.

A detail from the fountain - a leaping frog looking at a conch shell... 

Detail from the inner garden, with Mexican terracotta pottery and Pre-Columbian sculpture.

A four-tiered pyramid built as a display for Frida's and Diego's collection of Mexican artefacs and Aztec idols.

More information about La Casa Azul: Museo Frida Kahlo.


Ruben said...

Tack för ett fint besök hos Frida, det känns som jag faktiskt åter var på plats och ställe. Du har verkligen fångat många fina motiv. Och vilken fin berättelse!

Ha det gott!

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

Tack - så härligt att höra från dig, Ruben. Vi have en underbar vecka, först i Mexico City och sedan i Oaxaca; mycket kultur, vänliga människor och god mat. Ha det bra igen, Liisa.

Angela said...

Great blog! Thanks for sharing.

bloggernefa said...

very beautiful and interesting. Thank you for showing us this amazing womans inner sanctuary