The movie "Frida" (starring Salma Hayek
and Alfred Molina, directed by Julie Taymore, released 2002) on the famous
Mexican artist (1910 -1954) inspired us to do this tour. We started
planning it a year before. Making it extra special was the fact that
Ilania could join us in Mexico City to explain and interpret the works
of Kahlo. Ilania had done a thesis on Kahlo in her college studies.
As you see in the Taymore movie, Frida Kahlo's
life was interwoven with her famous artist husband, Diego Rivera, and the
Bolshevik Leon Trotsky. Thus a proper tour on the Frida trail includes
the habitats of those two gents as well.
trail we followed (in a leisurely 3-day pace, but could have been done
in two) was:
The Blue House in the Coyoacán district: Home of Frida's parents and
Frida at various stages of her life, including her birth and death.
Painted blue to ward off evil spirits. Self guided tour of the
interior and gardens which appear to be, judging by old photographs,
maintained as they were. The easel in her 2nd story studio holds her
last (unfinished) work, a portrait of Joseph Stalin.
The Leon Trotsky house: a few blocks away from the Blue House;
the walled, heavily guarded complex where Trotsky spend his last years
writing treatises on the Russian revolution, and where he was assassinated
despite all the guards and guard towers. (Since we were in no rush,
after Trotsky we walked over to the Coyoacán town center and had drinks at
a bar on the square. Good spot for people watching.)
Museo Dolores Olmedo. The estate of Dolores Omedo, patron of the
arts and especially of Frida and Diego, now a private museum containing
the art works Dolores acquired from Frida and Diego. It's quite far
from downtown. We rented a cab for the day (500 pesos) and the drive
was at least one hour each way. The Coyoacán sights are in the
same direction and can be done on the same cab fare.
Anahuacalli (House of Mexico): an
unbelievably large artist studio, designed and built by Rivera in his last
year, but not really part of his & Frida's life, so only deserving a short
stop on a Frida tour.
Placio Nacional. This is the Government building, including the
office of the Presidente and the series of Rivera murals depicting Mexican
history from "The Indigenous World" to its 20th century revolution.
Frida is a model in two murals.
Museo Mural Diego Rivera was built especially to house one famous Rivera
Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda
of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda),
1947, but also includes two floors of exhibits related to other Diego
murals. Engineers will find the special earthquake proofing
construction of interest. The Rivera mural floats. See
Placio de Bellas Artes (a.k.a the Opera House). The Opera house
doubles as an art museum which contains Rivera murals, murals by others,
and other works of art.
There are many more Frida points of interest, but this is all we had time
for. Unfortunately we missed seeing the
Museo Estudio Diego Rivera, the twin house (as depicted in the movie)
where Diego worked and lived with Frida.
See our entire photo album of the Frida
trip. Sorry, no photos of Frida's home or art since photography was
And after a long day of Frida touring we
headed for Eats in the Zona
Fortunately for us Ilania studied up Spanish
before the Mexico City trip and was thus able to expertly deal with cab
drivers as well as translate for us at the various museums. In
addition, her language ability enabled her to pick up these superb
recommendations for restaurants in the Zona Rosa district: Fonda el
Refugio [**, $$-$$$] at Liverpool 166; reservations recommended.
We subsequently learned that this establishment was mentioned in a New York
Times review as the "best Mexican restaurant in the world." And a
few blocks away: Cielo Rojo Tequileria [$$], a place with fun food
and traditional and Mariachi bands playing in the early evening; DJ music
afterwards. The two are opposites: first is a quite, refined
setting suitable for great dining and conversation. The second is a
loud party atmosphere. Food is very good in both.
Street signs in the Coyoacán district guide
you to the Frida Kahlo and Leon Trotsky houses, which are a few blocks
Above and below: two of the Rivera murals at
the Placio Nacional. Above: Frida is the model for the center
figure in one of the pre-colonial images. Below: Frida (with a
hammer and sickle pendant around her neck) and her sister
(in red) are the models in the revolution
Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central
(Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the
Alameda) depicting Diego
(as a child) holding hands with death; his future wife, Frida stands
behind. The full length of the mural is shown on top, and a zoom on
the center is below. Click on above images to enlarge.