Three weeks ago today some of the Frida and Diego Mexico City Tour participates had the opportunity to stay over and see the Ballet Folclórico at the Palacio de Bellas Artes. The performance, pageantry and setting were SPECTACULAR! A definite must see when visiting Mexico City!
Alas all good things end, the afternoon of day 5, the last day of the tour, was spent at the Dolores Olmedo Museum. The Museum is celebrating what would have been Frida’s 110th birthday with their special expanded collection showcasing 26 pieces of some of her most significant works. The museum is housed in the magnificent Hacienda La Noria, a stone structure which dates back to the late 1500’s.
Colonia San Angel’s El Bazaar Sabado (Saturday Bazaar) was the Tour’s next morning stop on day 5. It was the perfect place to browse a wide variety of quality artisan handicrafts from throughout Mexico. The setting in-and-around the 16th century Plaza San Jacinto, with its many cafés and restaurants, made for fun afternoon of great shopping for silver from Taxco, fancifully painted wooden animals from Oaxaca, handmade cotton tablecloths from Michoacan, colorful corn husk flowers, textiles, embroidered Tehuana blouses and the like!
We kicked-off the morning of our 5th and final day of the tour at the Diego and Frida Studios located in Colonial San Angel. In the early 1930’s, shortly after their marriage, Diego received several very lucrative commissions painting murals in Detroit, New York and San Francisco. It was during this period that he commissioned Juan O’Gorman, his friend, fellow artist and architect to design a residence for him and Frida to be built on a property he had purchased in Colonia San Angel. Its minimalist-functional design was in stark contrast to the neighborhood’s Spanish Colonial tradition. I cannot help but wonder if Diego and Frida reveled in the commotion and attention it created. Diego’s San Angel studio is immense, with beautiful floor to ceiling north facing windows. Diego died in the studio’s small adjacent bedroom in 1957 from cancer, three years after Frida passed away in Casa Azul.
Diego’s San Angel Studio encore . . . in the top exterior view you can see the studio’s magnificent 2nd floor-to-ceiling north facing window’s. This is where Diego painted many of his famous works from the mid 1930’s until his death in 1957. The studio’s spacious interior showcases many of his “Judases”, large paper mache effigies, that are traditionally set on fire during Holy Week.
The afternoon of day 4 of the Frida & Diego Mexico City Tour took us to Anahuacalli, Diego Rivera’s Museum and Studio. This magnificent structure, also located in Coyoacán, was to be his archeological museum and studio. Designed by Diego, he called it “my composite of Aztec, Mayan and ‘Rivera Traditional’ styles”. Diego was an avid collector of pre-Hispanic artifacts amassing over 60,000 pieces during his lifetime. Located on the 2nd floor, the cavernous studio houses some of his immense preliminary sketches which served as the basis for some of his most important works. The studio’s large north facing windows provide for magnificent light, unfortunately Diego died in 1957, prior to the museum’s completion, and he never got to occupy it.
Day 4 . . . WOW! Our group spent the morning at Frida’s beloved Casa Azul in Colonia Coyoacán. Located at the corner of Calle Allende and Lourdes, Frida’s father had the home built in 1904 in the fashionable French bourgeois style in vogue at the time. When Frida and Diego took up residence in the early 1940’s they began the transformation you see today, expressing “Mexicanismo” by adding colonial architectural features and planting succulents and leafy plants from the various regions of Mexico. Frida came full circle, born in Casa Azul in 1907, she passed away there in 1954. Eight days prior to her death, ill and bedridden, she completed her final work which she inscribed with “Viva la Vida”. I’d like to believe, that despite the serious health issues she endured throughout her life and the turbulent & passionate relationship with Diego she kept her “joie de vivre” until the end, leaving for posterity the inscription that life is worth living . . . . .
Day 3 of the Frida & Diego Mexico City Tour kicked-off with a visit to the Memorial of Benito Juarez in the heart of the city. Our guides shared their insight and provided an opportunity to learn more about this revered president”s place in history and his progressive reforms. Other sites visited included the Museo Mural Diego Rivera to view the well-known “Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda Central” mural, the Palacio de Bellas Artes to learn more about México’s other illustrious muralists including Siqueiros, Tamayo and Camarena. The upper floor’s mezzanine contains the Rivera’s the 2nd version of the controversial JD Rockefeller commission “Man at the Crossroads”. Our last stop of the day was the Museo de Arte Modern in Chapultepec Park.
Budding Frida & Diego Mexico City Tour muralists at the Museo Mural Diego Rivera!
On day 3 of our tour we visited a Mexican Artist Exhibit showcasing works from 1700-1790. Having the opportunity to view the exhibit in the 17th century Palacio Iturbide Banamex made it extra special.