Frida Kahlo’s Studio is upstairs from the main living quarters of her family home, affectionately known as “Casa Azul”, the blue house.
Now the Frida Kahlo Museum, her home, studio and and grounds are open to visitors. It’s located in the Coyacan neighborhood in Mexico City.
At first I declined to pay extra for the permission to take photos.
Usually museum photography never works out well. Too dimly lit. Can’t get close enough. Better postcard of the scenes I want in the gift shop.
So, I wandered the house, with most of the main living rooms turned into galleries.
It wasn’t until I climbed up the staircase to Frida’s studio, that I got hit with a visceral wallop of emotion.
I couldn’t hold back my tears.
I felt something so strong. Entering the studio of an artist I’ve admired for so long.
It was the reason for this particular pilgrimage to Mexico City.
Imagining the years Frida was confined to a wheelchair, she would have had to have been carried up to her studio.
There were her paints and supplies on display, but something far more intriguing to me caught my eye.
I turned and went back downstairs, against the traffic of a large tour group.
Trying to hide my tears, (there goes another crazy American), making a bee-line back to the front desk to a my photographer pass.
Here are a few more shots of her paints…before I get to my favorite part.
In the throng of tourists, no one took much notice of the library of books in Frida’s studio.
That’s my friend, Rubén, a used book seller from Mexico City. He and I joined forces to open a teeny used bookshop in Oaxaca, because there wasn’t one. So we’re probably biased when it comes to book browsing.
Glass doors cover the book cases, keeping out the significant amount of dirt and dust that is the downside of indoor/outdoor living in Mexico.
Rubén asked me to photograph every single shelf, so he could hunt for those titles and create a similar display in the bookstore: Books that Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera have on their shelves. Or something like that.
A glimpse of me photographing, and Rubén salivating, over the books…in the reflection of the glass doors…
Taking up several shelves, are wooden file boxes that Frida decorated.
This is my favorite part. Let’s look closer.
It looks like Frida painted over the plain wood with white paint before she decorated with collage and added titles.
Look at the metal star she glued on in the middle (photo below, top) above a page from an old book.
Prensa = The Press, in Spanish.
Banco = Bank in Spanish. That one’s easy. The Barrel image is from Mexican lotteria cards. The Barrel is a symbol for prosperity.
Frida was visualizing prosperity! You think?
File box #12: Frida kept a box of clippings from the mural of Diego’s that the Rockefeller’s commissioned and then had torn down.
Love the art deco typography. Yellowed, so probably from an NYC newspaper.
Oficiales = Documents, or Correspondence, in Spanish.
I love how Frida coded her files with lotteria cards. The heart with the knife through it on Diego’s box of letters is not a surprise here.
Diego gets a diablo lotteria card too.
Recibos y Facturas = Bills & Invoices, in Spanish.
A big fat dollar sign.
I wonder if Frida clipped this out of a newspaper in the USA? Isn’t it fun to imagine Frida traveling and collecting collage ephemera?
Maybe it’s just me…but I take some sort of strange comfort in that thought. I’m not the only one?
This box on the right, with the newspaper stencil guy, is my favorite. So I saved it for last.
I wonder what’s in that file box?
Across from the bookcase wall, is where Frida set up her easel and a couple of small tables for supplies.
Hexagon clay tiles! Deliciously uneven, hand made, chipping.
Shhh…dont’ tell, but hen the guards weren’t looking I slipped off my sandals to walk across barefoot.
Is that weird?
Before we go, I want to show you the only decoration she had on her wall:
A big, framed medical school poster, Intra-Uterine Life.
In English, published by Dr. G.H. Michel & Co., Cleveland, Ohio.
Could Frida have picked this out after she had the miscarriage in Detroit?
Oh, Frida..you confronted the pain of life head on.
I told you museum photography sucks – especially with my iPhone!
When I went to get a close up, the reflection made this sort of sacred child image with the agave plant outside.
I think Frida would have liked it’s surreal quality.
Mexican houses are built around hidden courtyard. Interior windows, facing in to the courtyard, bring in light.
This is a huge reason I love living in Mexico. The light. The interior-facing windows. The light!
Not that my apartment is this fancy or anything. But I do have a wall of windows facing a courtyard. Private and magical.
The is a shot from the outside stairway leading from Frida’s studio bedroom to the courtyard.
The little bedroom is tucked in more of a foyer, than a private room. I’m guessing that Frida’s small bed came up to her studio when she became wheelchair-bound.
The twin bed is from her childhood, with a mirror on top. Her father put the mirror in so she could make self-portraits when she was first injured in the trolley accident.
On the left are windows to Frida’s studio. The right windows are a larger bedroom.
I have a bunch more photos from the rest of the house and gardens…will share those in another post.