It was in July of 1954 that she passed away on the bed where her death mask now lies. On the tour of Frida Kahlo’s house, which sits on the corner of Londres and Ignacio Allende in Coyoacan, you’ll get a look into the last years of her life—where she was born, where she lived and where she died. To just be in the house is a pretty powerful experience itself.
It’s the brightest-blue house on the block. Actually, it’s the only blue house on the block. It’s also the only house bordered by lines of people. With roadblocks like pre-purchasing museum tickets, dealing with traffic and waiting in line, it might feel like touring Frida Kahlo’s House is more effort than it’s worth. It’s not. Once inside, you’ll find a spectacle of riches—photos, artifacts, furniture, personal items, all right there. All right in front of you. Everything is as it was when she lived there—her studio, the kitchen, bedrooms and outdoor areas all remain the same.
Paintings Found in Frida Kahlo’s House from her last Year, 1954
This painting is called Marxism Will Give Health to the Sick, 1954. On one side you have beauty, life, utopia, and on the other you have destruction, anger and death. The large hands represent salvation and a cure by Marxism.
This one is called Self Portrait With Stalin, 1954. You can see that the level of detail in this one is lacking. It’s said that during the time this portrait was being painted, Kahlo was already under heavy medications and was starting to lose focus.
Watermelons, Viva la Vida, 1954
Widely speculated to be Kahlo’s last painting, she’s said to have added “viva la vida – Coyoacan 1954 Mexico” just eight days before her death. Take a look at the painting above it, and then look at this one again. There’s speculation over it being her last painting because it’s so much better than her other paintings at this time, like the Self Portrait with Stalin. It’s thought that she may have painted Watermelons in 1952 and later added the inscription as a “signing off” before her death.
Where Frida Kahlo Hung Out In those Last Few Years of Life
Diego Rivera added an art space on the second floor of the house. Here is where Kahlo painted some of her last paintings. Her day bed and separate bedroom connect to this area from the left-hand side.
Still Life with Flag, 1954.
Like the others, this is one of her last pieces. Here, you’ll see Frida Kahlo’s wheelchair, which sits in front of her easel. Behind the wheelchair you’ll see all of her paints and paintbrushes just as they were in 1954.
In bed is where she spent a lot of her time. She’d entertained herself with puppets and painting. At the foot of her bed hang these large dolls made out of paper mache. With a large window that faces this bed, these dolls would dance whenever the wind blew in.
Diego Rivera had a separate bedroom. Here, his work clothes hang as they did several years back. His hats and his overalls remain unmoved.
Extra Highlights from Frida Kahlo’s House
With 10 rooms and an outdoor garden, it’s a pretty large house. So there’s a lot to experience in one afternoon.
Frida Kahlo’s kitchen is spacious, even by modern standards. She insisted on cooking the old-fashioned way, over a wood fire. Logs are inserted into the square spaces below the stove and these large pots are used to make dishes like pozoles. She wasn’t a very good cook, so Diego Rivera’s ex-wife Guadalupe Marin would typically help out in the kitchen.
The outside garden includes this mini pyramid structure. Rivera built it in the 1940s, when he first moved into the house, to display their pre-Hispanic pieces. It’s large, but with a reflection pond and gorgeous landscaping, it’s hardly and obstruction.
A Special Exhibit Currently at the Frida Kahlo House
During our time at the museum, there was a special exhibit of some of Frida Kahlo’s dresses, body casts and personal items. Kahlo’s right leg was amputated at the knee due to gangrene in 1953. This is her orthopedic leg. Notice the detail on the shoe. It’s so ornate and looks like a wedge that would walk the runway in a Chanel Spring/Summer 2017 show.
Overall thoughts on the Tour of Frida Kahlo’s House
I consider the trip a pilgrimage. An artist I admire for her strength, honesty, revolutionary spirit, grit, pride and adventurous nature, I’ve longed to be where she is. I’ve wondered how I would act being in Kahlo’s house. Would I cry? Would I be scared? Would I be bored? I was none of those. I was enthralled, not overcome with emotion, but overly stimulated by every little thing. Everything deserved a picture. Everything deserved a quiet moment. The trip to Mexico City, the traffic, the waiting in line was all worth it. I’d totally do it all again to check out Frida Kahlo’s House and see how she lived during the last years of her life. There really is nothing like it. Go, do it and come back with pictures.