Our first major encounter with Frida Kahlo was, oddly, in Istanbul. What is the artist and feminist’s connection to Istanbul? We tried to find out, and guess what? She doesn’t have one! But posters, T-shirts (including one with her wearing a Daft Punk T-shirt of her own), phone cases, you name it, her image was on it. Everywhere were turned, there she was. She also is the subject of one of the many immersive artist experiences traveling around the world. Hers will be in Chicago, but alas, not while we are there.
Less strange was all the Frida merch in Mexico. A beautiful 150-foot mural by Irish street artist Fin DAC graces a building on Chapultepec in Guadalajara. Fin DAC painted the mural over 11 days in July (the month of Frida’s birth and death) 2019. The work is called “Madgalena,” after Frida’s full name: Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón.
Of course, she’s all over Mexico City and we could not pass up a chance to go to Casa Azul, or the Frida Kahlo Museum in Coyoacán. This is the home where she lived her entire life and in addition to her art, you can see her home’s furnishings and the beautiful courtyard. We accidentally had another Dead Person Bingo session, too, since we didn’t realize until we saw the urn that Frida’s ashes sit on the dresser in her bedroom. Sorry, I didn’t take a picture. If you happen to be in Mexico City and want to head to the museum, get tickets in advance. They are timed for every 15 minutes and they are booked. Plus they don’t sell them at her home, as several disappointed people found out. If you’re looking for Frida bling, there’s plenty of it to buy on the street, which I am sure you assumed.
You probably know that she married Diego Rivera, Mexico’s second most famous artist, twice. He also has some murals and paintings you might want to see if you’re in Mexico. Diego painted the world around him, while Frida’s most famous and most common subject was herself as she explored identity, the body, and death. Unsurprising themes considering her attachment to a womanizer and her body’s failings due to polio and a bus accident.
Just a few blocks from La Casa Azul is another home turned museum, that of Leon Trotsky. Frida, Diego, and Leon were well acquainted. Trotsky is buried at this home, where he was assassinated in 1940 after being exiled by Stalin. Luckily, I did take a picture of his gravestone. His second wife, Natalia Sedova, is buried there with him although she outlived him by 22 years (A two-fer in our Dead Person Bingo game!).
You would think that we were done with Frida sightings when we left Mexico and headed to New York, but you’d be wrong. Here she is interpreted by Lady JDay in New York on the front of the Ridge Hotel at 151 E. Houston.
One last Friday encounter: the movie was one of the options on the plane during our flight to Rome, where we are now.
Having seen this article, I realize I am late to the game, but better late than never.