In Mexico City, Frida Kahlo has grown from a one-time resident artist into a major industry. Wherever we went, Ruth and I found Frida Kahlo notebooks, reproductions of her face, coffee mugs decorated with her art, etc. To pay tribute to this unique self-taught artist whose surreal yet realistic paintings now sell for millions, we decided to visit her blue house at Londres 247 in the Coyoacan neighborhood. We arrived about 10:30 am to find a large crowd already in line patiently waiting for the 11 am opening. Street vendors were everywhere. The man in line in front of me bought a colorful bookmark. I suspected Frida’s face was on it somewhere.
Frida finished painting the melons above, the work commonly called “Viva la Vida” or “Long Live Life”, just 8 days before she died. Although she had many reasons to complain, she mostly remained a sunny optimist with a fiery temperament all her life. In her Academy Award nominated performance in the film Frida, Salma Hayek perfectly captured her personality in a great performance 14 years ago. Ruth and I didn’t see it until we returned home. The opening shot was in the garden of the blue house, and it shows up elsewhere in the film. Shortly after I took the picture of the watermelons, a guard came over and told me that if I took photos I had to pay extra for the privilege. I immediately put my camera away.
Frida Kahlo was born in this blue house and died there 47 years later. She packed a lot of living into those years. Married to equally famous artist Diego Rivera, she once said, “From 1929 to the present (1944), I can’t remember any time when the Riveras have not had at least one guest in the house.” Apparently she alternated hosting duties, drinking tequila, and filling hundreds of canvasses with her now instantly recognizable visions.
Loaded with folk art, especially pottery, the house’s rooms clearly reflected her lifestyle and personality. I especially liked the dining room with its Judas figures and the traditional, very colorful Mexican kitchen. The first several rooms concentrated on her art and biography. There were lots of her paintings on display and many photographs of her taken by her epileptic father Guillermo, an official photographer during the regime of General Porfirio Diaz. Frida often posed for dad and about 6,000 of the photos remain.
The house’s many visitors, including Ruth and me, lingered in the rooms, obviously not wanting to leave. Many, including Ruth, looked at practically every object in the gift shop, sat and watched an excellent detailed documentary about Frida, and slow-motion-strolled in the delightful garden to prolong the experience. Free to take photos outside, I now have many images of the sculpture filled Aztec temple near the exit.
Frida’s home is, beyond a doubt, one of Mexico City’s top attractions and a 5 compass experience.