Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul in Coyoacán, Mexico | Yellowtrace
Photo by Bethlehem Imaz.

Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul in Coyoacán, Mexico | Yellowtrace
Photo by Bethlehem Imaz.

Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul in Coyoacán, Mexico | Yellowtrace
Photo by Bethlehem Imaz.

Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul in Coyoacán, Mexico | Yellowtrace
Photo by Bethlehem Imaz.

 

What a privilege it is to write about Casa Azul, where the great artist Frida Kahlo was born and lived out her remarkable existence. It will come as little surprise to any to learn that this house was as magical in design as it is in story, given the life and work of the artist who resided there. Let’s delve in.

Casa Azul was originally built in Coyoacan, one of the oldest and most beautiful cultural districts of Mexico City by Guillermo Kahlo, Frida’s German Jewish father, a photographer of status, in 1904. At the time, the property spanned 800sqm. Built in the typical fashions of the time, the complex featured French-inspired exterior structures that included a central courtyard surrounded by rooms. There, Frida was born in 1907. With the advent of the revolution, her immigrant father eventually lost everything, including his home.

 

Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul in Coyoacán, Mexico | Yellowtrace
Frida in 1938, photo by Nickolas Muray.

Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul in Coyoacán, Mexico | Yellowtrace
Photo by Bethlehem Imaz.

Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul in Coyoacán, Mexico | Yellowtrace
Photo by Bethlehem Imaz.

Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul in Coyoacán, Mexico | Yellowtrace
Photo by Bethlehem Imaz.

Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul in Coyoacán, Mexico | Yellowtrace
Photo by Bethlehem Imaz.

 

In 1929, at the age of 21, Frida married the then 46 year old Diego Rivera, the famous muralist who bought back the property. Together, with the help of political exile Leon Trotsky (who moved in for a time), they painted the famous blue house, bought more land, planted a garden and built a wall to protect their home from attack. In 1946, Rivera commissioned friend and architect Juan O’Gorman to build a workshop for Frida in the old garage using local materials such as volcanic rock and basalt as used by the Aztecs in their pyramids and ceremonial structures. Rivera also embellished parts of the exteriors with mosaics, folk art, shells and jars filled with little treasures. Frida loved botany, studying voraciously, and collected many local species of plants in her garden such as yuccas, cacti, jasmine and agaves that feature regularly in her work.

Today the property is a museum and gallery of her life and work with Diego Rivera. The home tells their story, and inspired their work. After the major accident that left Frida Kahlo invalid for 19 years, she had one of the bedrooms where she recovered fitted with a mirror on the ceiling so that she could observe and paint herself in that state. The study, a mostly glass room, was a greenhouse in itself, constantly flooded with light, filled with plants and her paints contained in perfume bottles. What perfect conditions to paint in!

 

Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul in Coyoacán, Mexico | Yellowtrace
Self Portrait in 1940, photo by Nickolas Muray.

Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul in Coyoacán, Mexico | Yellowtrace
Photo by Bethlehem Imaz.

Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul in Coyoacán, Mexico | Yellowtrace
Photo by Bethlehem Imaz.

Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul in Coyoacán, Mexico | Yellowtrace
Photo by Bethlehem Imaz.

 

Their artfully inconsistent home is filled with character down to the kitchen where the lover’s names are written in shells on the wall. I love the linear architectural forms, cement-rendered walls and steps, painted in a vivid cobalt. Details around the architectural structure, such as the openings, are painted in contrasting block colours of terracotta, mustard and leaf green. Simple in execution but grand in total effect, the surfaces are all tactile from the exposed stone, to the remaining mosaics and shells that embed the walls.

Today the house is as she left it and is available to the public, many of whom pilgrimage there in honour of her life and feministic pursuits. How I’d love to walk amongst the stacked stone walls with hexagonal terracotta floors in her workshops, to breathe in the air around her succulents in the garden. What a historic monument!

 

Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul in Coyoacán, Mexico | Yellowtrace
Photo by Bethlehem Imaz.

Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul in Coyoacán, Mexico | Yellowtrace
Photo by Bethlehem Imaz.

 


[Images sourced from Architectural Digest/AD. Photography by Bethlehem Imaz & Nickolas Muray as noted.]

 

About The Author

Sally Klopper
Contributor

Sally is an interior designer and director of Sally Caroline - a design studio specialising in luxury residences. Her practice seeks to redefine the importance of ‘home’ by crafting spaces that consciously support every day routines, whilst being emphatic of her client’s style. For Sally, a truly great interior must be both beautiful in form, and genius in function. When not absorbed in interiors, Sally spends half her weeks on the coast in Blairgowrie, mothers her beautiful Hungarian Viszla, dreams about her next travel destination, writes her own blog, and voraciously hunts unique or vintage treasures. An entrepreneur and an avid design aficionado, Sally is always working on multiple ventures. Most recently, Sally launched an e-course, Open Studio, where interiors enthusiasts can learn how to design luxury residences as she does.

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