Shortly after Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo were married in 1929, they traveled to the United States where they remained for most of the following three years while Diego painted murals in San Francisco, Detroit, and New York. While they were away, they asked their friend, architect and artist Juan O'Gorman, to design and build a home for them in Mexico City where they would live upon their return to Mexico.
Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Studio Museum
The home is, in fact, two separate buildings, a smaller one painted blue for Frida (the same color as her family home) and a larger white and terracotta-colored one for Diego. The two houses are connected by a foot bridge on the roof terrace. The buildings are boxy in shape, with a spiral staircase on the outside of the larger building. Floor to ceiling windows provide ample light into the studio areas of each of the houses. The home is surrounded by a natural cactus fence.
In the design of the artists' home, O'Gorman drew on the functionalist principles in architecture, which states that the form of a building should be determined by practical considerations, which marked a strong shift from previous architectural styles. In Functionalism, no effort is made to mask the practical, necessary aspects of the construction such as plumbing and electricity features, which remain visible. The home differs greatly from the surrounding buildings, and at the time was considered an affront to the upper-class sensibilities of the San Angel neighborhood in which it is located.
Frida and Diego lived here from 1934 to 1939 (except for a time when they separated and Frida took a separate apartment in the center of the city and Diego remained here). In 1939, they divorced, and Frida went back to live in La Casa Azul, her family home in nearby Coyoacán. They reconciled and remarried the following year, and Diego joined Frida in the blue house, but he maintained this building in San Angel Inn as his studio. After Frida's death in 1954, Diego resumed living here full time except for when he was traveling, which he did frequently. He died here of congestive heart failure in 1957 at the age of 71.
Diego's studio remains much as he left it: visitors can see his paints, his desk, a small part of his collection of Pre-Hispanic pieces (the majority are in the Anahuacalli Museum), and a few of his works, including a portrait of Dolores Del Rio. Frida and Diego liked to collect large Judas figures which were originally made to be burned in traditional Easter week festivities. Several of these Judas figures populate Diego's studio.
Frida's house has few of her possessions, as she took them to La Casa Azul when she moved out. Her admirers will be interested in seeing her bathroom and bathtub. A print of her painting "What the Water Gave Me" is on the wall as this is most likely where she got the inspiration for the painting. While living here she also painted "Roots" and "The Deceased Dimas". Frida Kahlo fans will no doubt be surprised to see the house's tiny kitchen. It is difficult to imagine Frida and her helpers preparing the dishes that she, Diego, and their frequent house guests enjoyed in such a tiny space.
Some of the earliest photos of this pair of houses were taken by Frida Kahlo's father, Guillermo Kahlo, a renowned photographer. Diego and Frida asked him to check on the construction of the houses while they were still in the United States, and he took many photos to send to them as a report.
Museum Visiting Information
The museum is located in the San Angel Inn area of Mexico City on the corner of Altavista and Diego Rivera (formerly Palmera) streets, across from San Angel Inn restaurant. To get there you can take the metro to Miguel Angel de Quevedo Station and from there you can take a microbus to Altavista, or just grab a taxi.
The Casa Estudio Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo is open every day of the week except Monday. Admission is $30 USD, but free on Sundays.
Address: Avenida Diego Rivera #2, Col. San Angel Inn, Del. Álvaro Obregón, México, D.F.
Phone: +52 (55) 8647 5470