We took a red eye from Seattle to Mexico City on our way to Peru. We had a twelve hour layover in Mexico City and decided to head into the city for a wander around and most importantly go to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s La Casa Azul (Blue House) as Helen is a huge fan of Frida’s work and her independent, strong personality.
We are pretty good at navigating subway systems in foreign countries and so decided to get the subway into town. Let me clarify, Helen is good at navigating subways systems. We got a train out of the airport fine and had to transfer at a station after a few stops. At that station we found the direct line to town was closed for repairs and had to take a different line. We got to the entrance and there was a police officer keeping people from going in; slightly concerning. After some time he let us all through and the masses crammed up the stairway to the platform. The platform was rammed with people. A train came in and there was a mad crush. The last man to board was pushing as hard as he could as the doors closed on him. We were now right in front, at the edge of the platform, with a large pushy crowd behind us; Super sketchy. The next train slowly pulled in and even before it stopped we were pushed up against its side. I pulled my head back as my chest scraped against the train and the crush increased. The door opened and we just tried to keep our feet as the mass of people flushed in. We were on, unable to move, packed tight as sardines. It was a physical relief to finally arrive at Coyoacan station.
La Casa Azul was a intimate look at Frida and Diego’s art and life. A large courtyard surrounded by rooms and balconies; a quirky and unique compound filled with art, ponds and beautiful gardens. The rooms included their art space with their easels, paintbrushes and unfinished work. It felt as if they had just been working just moments ago.
A large collection of Frida’s clothing inspired by the indigenous people of Mexico, and her wheelchair and various back braces she had to use after her debilitating accident as a teenager, were on display. Candid photos of her and Diego, of their trips abroad and their time at the La Casa Azul and also photos of friends and family, including Trotsky who lived with them for a time. They were unabashed leftists; Fighting for workers, the peasants and the repressed during the time of rising fascism. The last event Kahlo went to just days before she died, and against her doctors orders, was a rally for exploited workers.
Their two different bedrooms looked as if they were still in use, except for both their death masks in their respective rooms. I’ve always found these funeral masks creepy and I’m glad that tradition has passed over time.
La Casa Azul was an inspiring, all encompassing view into the life and time of Frida Kahlo and Diego. Worth the harrowing subway trip.