Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Writing, Teaching, Language, Landscape, Life

La Casa Azul—Frida Kahlo’s House

38 Comments

 

Frida Kahlo’s studio, paints, wheelchair.

Frida Kahlo

“Pies, ¿pa’ que los necesito, si tengo alas para volar?” ~Frida Kahlo

“Why do I need feet, when I have wings to fly.

If I were to talk about my first time to visit Frida Kahlo’s house, la Casa Azul (The Blue House), in Coyoacán, Mexico, I would start with the first time I heard of the Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo (1907- 54) nearly 30 years ago and how the more I learned of her life, art, and spirit the more I fell in love.

I’d speak of her incredible life, filled with pain, passion, heartbreak, art, and joy. I’d talk of how she contracted polio as a child that left her bedridden for one year, one leg shriveled and shorter than the other, and permanently infected her spinal column. I’d speak of the trolley car accident when she was 18 that shattered her pelvis, fractured her spine, ribs, collarbone, right leg, and shoulder that caused her to live the rest of her life in braces, traction, and intense pain.

Frida had more than thirty operations and spent most of her life in pain and flat on her back. I’d speak of the self-revelatory art the years trapped in bed birthed, and how she created a life of passion, politics, travel, art, and love.

Yet, people who knew her remember for her alegria, happiness. Her biographers describe her:

Frida had huge lust for life. She had a seductive effect on many people and charmed everyone. People loved her beauty, personality, and talent. She was also known for her dark sense of humour and sharp wit. Frida loved dancing, drinking and parties. She took great pride in keeping a home for Diego and loved looking after him. She lavished attention on her pets – mischievous spider monkeys, dogs, cats and birds and adored children. She loved nonsense, gossip and dirty jokes and abhorred pretension. She treated servants like family and students like esteemed colleagues.

If I were to talk about my first time to visit her house, I might talk about how I bought the tickets first and arranged our plane tickets to Oaxaca, México around these tickets and arranged to stay in Mexico City just to see her home.

I might then talk about how after waiting in line, we discovered the tickets were not valid, since they hadn’t been bought directly from the museum. I might then talk about the lines of people wrapped around the block. I’d mention how we weren’t to be allowed in, how the people working there were quite sorry, but it was simply not possible. I’d then talk of the many conversations, my pleas (that I was wrapped in a vice-like grip around around both of their legs, begging for entrance, eyeing the security gatnd plotting the speed and height necessary for me to jump it), and the eventual gentleness of the eyes of two young people who said if we bought new tickets, we could enter.

I’d then talk of how as we moved through Frida’s home, I kept spontaneously bursting into tears with emotion.

Better not to talk and, instead, let Frida’s home, art, words, and life speak for themselves.

“Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light.”

Frida and Diego lived in this house 1929-1954

Frida married artist Diego Rivera, a wedding her mother described as, “an elephant marrying a dove.” Frida herself said later, “There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the trolley, and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.”

Diego described her work: “I recommend her to you, not as a husband but as an enthusiastic admirer of her work, acid and tender, hard as steel and delicate and fine as a butterfly’s wing, lovable as a beautiful smile, and as profound and cruel as the bitterness of life.”

“I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.”

Self portrait with necklace of thorns.

Frida’s kitchen:

“Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and moves away.”

Dining room:

Frida’s studio, paints, and brushes: 

“Painting completed my life.” 

“They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my reality.”

“I am not sick. I am broken. I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint.”

Frida’s bedrooms:

Day bedroom, with mirror above for painting.

“I think that little by little I’ll be able to solve my problems and survive.”

The Two Fridas

Night bedroom, with butterflies above.

Frida’s dresses and braces:

“Enagua: a long skirt with a waistband that has a ruffle sewn to it. 

The adornment of the Tehuana dress is centered around the upper part of the body. Chain stitch blouses, flowers, highly decorated jewelry, earrings, necklaces and rings will always be concentrated from the torso up, obliging the viewer to focus on Frida’s upper body and providing her with the opportunity to edit and fragment herself, distracting the viewer from her legs and lower part of her body.”

Frida’s courtyard and gardens:

La Casa Azul courtyard.

Noé in the courtyard.

“I wish I could do whatever I liked behind the curtain of ‘madness’. Then: I’d arrange flowers, all day long, I’d paint; pain, love and tenderness, I would laugh as much as I feel like at the stupidity of others, and they would all say: Poor thing, she’s crazy! (Above all I would laugh at my own stupidity.) I would build my world which while I lived, would be in agreement with all the worlds. The day, or the hour, or the minute that I lived would be mine and everyone else’s – my madness would not be an escape from ‘reality’.” 

Frida’s gardens.

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Author: Dawn Wink

Dawn Wink is a writer and educator whose work explores the beauty and tensions of language, culture, and place.

38 thoughts on “La Casa Azul—Frida Kahlo’s House

  1. She was a rockstar! As are you! xox

    >

  2. She was a rockstar! As are you! xox

  3. She was a rockstar! As are you! xox giselle

  4. Hola Dawn,

    Muchisimas gracias por compartir! Me darias permiso para compartir tus fotos y comentarios acerca de “La Casa Azul” con mis estudiantes de espanol? Estoy feliz ensenando un curso de espanol para principiantes en un community college este verano.
    Un saludo y un abrazo para ti,
    Ana Marai

    • Ana Maria,
      Claro que si! Por eso escribo – para compartir la jornada de la vida!
      Que alumnos más afortunadas tienes tu, amiga. Te extraño mucho!
      Con gran abrazotes!
      Dawn

  5. Thank you Dawn!

    How wonderful to revisit Frida’s home along with you. I visited over 20 years ago!?

    Wishing you well,

    Lauren in Oakland

    ________________________________

    • Dear Lauren,
      So good to hear from you! So glad you were able to revisit the magic and wonder of La Friducha!
      Great to see Jeff at AIC.
      Big hugs to you both,
      Dawn

  6. Dear Dawn, I’m so glad you got to see a hero of yours habitat, I love her boldness in art and decor……well, in life too!!!!

    • Dear Dan, it was simply incredible. I can’t remember if I used the words magical and powerful in this piece, but if I didn’t, then I should have. Words really barely can convey how profound this experience. Love this – her coldness in art and decor… and life. YES! Thanks so very much for writing and connecting! Big hugs, Dawn

  7. Thank you Dawn for great information and experience about Frida. I had no idea about her life. In all of our trips to Mexico the last 30 years I have always been drawn to her looks and art but never taking time to get to know her. Amazing !!!!
    And you look amazing ! Sure do love you!
    Cathy

    • Dear Cathy,
      Oh, you would love to get to know her better! This is just a tiny glimpse into the enormity of her life – both the tragedies and the beauty. Enjoy, enjoy!
      Sure do love you, too!
      Dawn

  8. Oh, such beauty. I can just imagine how mystical this experience was for you! I need to go. Tell me, what did she use to write her name and designs in the kitchen? Were they tacks?

    • Mamawolfe, a physical experience is the perfect way to describe this! Yes and yes. Her name and designs in the kitchen are created from miniature metal jugs and jars.

  9. Dearest Dawn, I believe you know that I am a Kahlo devotee, so I really cannot thank you enough for this marvelous piece and the magnificent photos!!! Wow! XOXOXO

    • Dearest Liz,
      Oh, yes, I do know that we are both Kahlo devotees and I thought of you! I am so grateful that you enjoyed and we were able to share together. Yes, it is just that WOW!!! XOXO

  10. Thank you what a beautiful place, I almost felt like I was with you. So appreciate the information.

  11. Wow what an amazing woman. I did not know all this either. Thanks for sharing and what great pictures of her home. Love the cute shirt and earrings you have on early in the presentation!!
    Tracie Oliver

  12. Beautiful journey turned to writing! Walking through her home and garden with you gave me goosebumps! What a gift you have given to those of us who may never seize the opportunity to go, or have the stamina to hold on to a the doorkeeper’s ankles at La Casa Azul! Thank you so much, Dawn!

  13. Oh this is so wonderful, thank you.

  14. Love this piece of writing and journey. It’s on my bucket list. I am a fan and also a fan of your writing and thoughtfulness. Renee

    • Renee, I think of you and your paints, your love of textures and color. You would absolutely LOVE. Thanks so much for taking the time to write. Your own fan, Dawn

  15. Oh!!!!! Dawn, this is just amazing. I don’t know that I will ever make it to this amazing house but it’s on my bucket list for sure. Thank you so very much for sharing this amazing adventure. Huge hugs to you and Noe. BTW – I really like how you’ve let your hair grow out – looks terrific on you.

    • Oh, Lindy, you must go!! You will simply love. It is an experience of a lifetime. Truly. I really hadn’t anticipated bursting into tears with emotion, much less several times. It really is just that special of a place.
      BTW – thanks so much about my hair. I am having WAY too much fun with it now that it’s a little longer. 🙂 Thanks so much for that!
      Much love,
      Dawn

  16. Beautiful! So happy you were allowed in to experience this magical place!

  17. You and your adventures, girl. Love it. Frida would be enamoured with you as well. She’d love your sense of humor, and your ability to laugh amid pain. She’d especially love the ticket story.

    • BA Betsy,
      Oh, did this ever make me smile and sigh and chuckle and wonder at the thought. What a reflection of the amazing YOU to even say this. Thank you, thank you, dear BA Betsy. That ticket story… true. Can you even believe it??
      XOXO

  18. What a delight to share your impressions of Frida and Diego, Dawn! Thank you for brightening my early morning.

    • Peggy,
      So glad to share this experience with you! So glad Frida’s spirit was with you in the early morning. Thanks ever so much or taking the time to write!
      Dawn

  19. Dawn,

    I loved your new post about La Casa Azul. I have admired Frida for such a long time and now regret that in previous sojourns to Mexico City, I haven’t made the time to visit. I enjoyed this piece very much and that deep blue top you are wearing in the third photo absolutely rocks. Gracias por compartir!

    Paul

    ________________________________

    • Paul,
      I’m so grateful to know that you loved this piece about La Casa Azul. Oh, the next time you go to Mexico City, you really must go to La Casa Azul. It is worth the trip just for the experience! Isn’t that blue top lovely? I bought last year in Oaxaca. One of my very favorites. 🙂 Mil gracias!
      Abrazos,
      Dawn

  20. You inspire me! This piece just glows with the talents of two remarkable people: Frida & Dawn.

  21. Terri, the toughest thing about this was trying to do justice to her incredible life in this brief piece. Thanks so very much for writing. My only hope was to honor her and do her justice!

  22. Thank you for sharing your adventure and tour! They let you take pictures! What a woman, what a life! I have a tapestry of her, three parrots, and a cigarette on my wall….

    • Dear Rachel—can you even believe it?! Yes, what a woman and what a life. The hardest part of this was hoping to do justice to the enormity of her spirit! Love your tapestry, parrots, and cigarette on your way… XOXO

  23. Dawn I didn’t know almost all of this! Very fascinating, thank you!

    Sent from my iPhone

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