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Never-Before-Seen Pictures Of Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo’s Mexico City Home

10/09/2021

“Painted in blue, inside out, it seems to host a bit of sky,” modernist Mexican poet Carlos Pellicer once wrote of La Casa Azul, the longtime home of Frida Kahlo. It’s where the artist was born, where she grew up, and where she returned as her career as a world-famous artist flourished at the same time as her marriage with Diego Rivera fell apart. And it’s where, at the age of 47, she died from pulmonary embolism after a painful life plagued with health problems. La Casa Azul wasn’t just her residence, it was the “artistic and aesthetic universe that nurtured Kahlo’s work”, explains art historian Luis-Martín Lozano.

When Lozano wrote Frida Kahlo: The Complete Paintings – a comprehensive chronicle that pairs in-depth analyses of Kahlo’s works with intimate details from her personal diaries and archives, published this September by Taschen – he knew her story wasn’t complete without that of her home. So tucked inside its extensive pages are several fascinating and never-before-seen photographs of the cobalt compound.

Some images show off its character-filled, eccentric interior detailing: Kahlo adorned Casa Azul with everything from ancient Aztec artefacts to native plants and Beaux Arts objets found at flea markets. Others show the artist existing in her own oasis, Rivera often by her side. (“The photographs of Kahlo and Rivera in the Casa Azul invite the reader into this exceptional and complex relationship,” says Lozano.)

Taschen’s Frida Kahlo: The Complete Paintings

 

As a result, the reader gets an unprecedented glimpse into the historical haven of not only Kahlo and Rivera, but a whole cohort of the mid-20th century’s volatile vanguard: Trotsky lived there for two years after his expulsion from Russia and, for a short period, so did Nobel Prize in Literature winner Octavio Paz. “Kahlo built an idyllic and aesthetic environment at the Casa Azul,” says Lozano. “It was a unique, cosmopolitan environment and a vision of universal culture.”

Today, La Casa Azul is a museum. Thousands flock there daily to wander around its 10 rooms. Some have been retrofitted into gallery spaces, while others are made to appear the same as they were when Kahlo died in 1954. With Kahlo’s almost mythical status as an artist – “Fridamania” is still going strong, even almost 70 years after her death – for many, a visit is almost a spiritual experience: “La Casa Azul has turned into somewhat of a pilgrimage of people wanting to encounter Kahlo herself,” Lozano says. “The photographs in the book allow the reader to truly enter this universe.”

Below, see photographs of Casa Azul – many of which have never been seen before.

BY GUILLERMO ZAMORO, 1950; GELATIN SILVER PRINT. FROM THE COLLECTION OF SPENCER THROCKMORTON/COURTESY OF TASCHEN
Rivera and Kahlo in 1950, on the stairway to the garden of the annex of La Casa Azul. The house, and property, are designed by architect Juan O’Gorman.

 

Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in the annex of La Casa Azul in 1950.

 

Kahlo sitting in the annex of La Casa Azul in January 1948.

 

BY BRIDGEMAN IMAGES/COURTESY OF TASCHEN.
Frida Kahlo’s studio in La Casa Azul, now Museo Frida Kahlo, in 2016.

 

Kahlo and Rivera with her spider monkey Caimito de Guayabal in the garden of Casa Azul, 1944.

 

BY M. SOBREIRA / ALAMY. COURTESY OF TASCHEN.
Re-creation of the kitchen of La Casa Azul within the present Museo Frida Kahlo, Coyoacán, 2014.

 

BY WALLACE MARLY / HULTON ARCHIVE / GETTY IMAGES. COURTESY OF TASCHEN.
Rivera and Kahlo taking a walk with their spider monkey.

 

“Tribute to Frida Kahlo”, a spread published in the 10 June 1951 issue of Novedades, included pictures of Kahlo at home.

 

COURTESY OF TASCHEN.
The Kahlo family house in 1937 – its cobalt exterior not captured by the black and white photograph.

 

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