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  • Day2

    A meeting with Frida and Diego

    February 24, 2018 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Fully satiated with breakfast and with the guide book already consulted, we ventured onto Mexico City's public transport network to visit the Casa Azul - Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera's home, now a museum to both of them and a place we weren't going to be visiting as part of our tour.

    Despite the usual mishaps of almost mistaking the Metrobus for the Metro (which, truth be told is reminiscent of the NY subway in that it's efficient but a bit grotty and not somewhere you'd want to be late at night) and getting slighty lost on the way there, we arrived to find a huge queue. Normally we would have turned around and left but as this is in the Top 5 of the city's attractions, we bore out the 90 minute wait to get inside.

    Once though the turnstile, we entered into Frida and Diego's world. This was the house where she was born, lived and died, although it had been altered when she took full control on the death of her parents. The grounds were an oasis of tropical plants, sculptures and fountains. However, it was on entering the two exhibitions, one permanent and one seasonal, that we discovered Frida as person and artist. I had been aware of her and the style of her work but it was a passing acquaintance.

    The temporary exhibit was a display of her clothes, medical corsets and prostheses. I didn't know that her right leg had been withered by polio at the age of 6 and that she had suffered serious injuries in a bus accident at 18 years old that had required her to have 22 operations in her life. Rather than be bowed or cowed by her disabilities, she turned them into strengths often turning her corsets into works of art. She also adopted indiginous style dress called Tehuana - her mother was half Zapotec. These dresses involved a highly decorative and embroidered top half and a dark, long and flowing skirt. For Frida this dress drew attention away from her disabilities, allowing her to accentuate her positive features and appear taller. She eventually had her leg amputated in 1953 after which she coined her most famous phrase, 'Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly!'

    Frida, the artist, was equally as interesting. She painted in both surreal and magical realist styles that highlighted the real and the absurd in life; the magical and the political. She was a follower of communist theory and actually gave refuge to Trotsky and his wife for two years following his exile from the Soviet Union. There are 3 examples of her work in the photos, ones which I found particularly notable. She also engaged in photography and made commentary of issues important to her by cutting portions of the photos out, sometimes leaving the spaces blank and sometimes transposing bits.

    All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience although I would say go early if you were going or attempt to prebook tickets that, in theory, allow you to jump the queue. That being said, the website seemed to be as abstract as her paintings and those who were queuing in the prebooked line were not moving much faster than us!
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