Watch Moving Short Films of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at the “Blue House”

Fans of Mex­i­can painter and pro­lif­ic self-por­traitist Fri­da Kahlo have one des­ti­na­tion above all oth­ers: the Blue House, her 1904 home, eas­i­ly iden­ti­fi­able by col­or, at the cor­ner of  Lon­dres and Allende in Mex­i­co City’s Coyoacán bor­ough. I myself dropped in a cou­ple years back, impressed at the atten­tion to detail in con­vert­ing the build­ing and its court­yard into the Fri­da Kahlo Muse­um. (It repaid the time spent in a line that, even in the mid­dle of a week­day, stretched down the block.) Oth­er vis­i­tors, clear­ly lovers of Kahlo’s work, walked the grounds try­ing to sense how much of the artist’s spir­i­tu­al pres­ence remained. Just above, you can see film of the Blue House in its pre-muse­um years, fea­tur­ing the liv­ing pres­ences of both Kahlo and her mural­ist hus­band Diego Rivera. Though the artists them­selves have long gone, the effort to pre­serve their domi­cile has clear­ly suc­ceed­ed; gift shop aside, these parts of its grounds look much the same today.

“Nobody will ever know how much I love Diego,” says a nar­ra­tor read­ing Kahlo’s words as the cam­era cap­tures her and Rivera togeth­er:

I don’t want any­thing to hurt him, noth­ing to both­er him and rob him of the ener­gy he needs for liv­ing — for liv­ing as he likes, for paint­ing, see­ing, lov­ing, eat­ing, sleep­ing, being by him­self, being with some­one. But I’d nev­er want him to be sad. If I had good health, I’d give him all of it. If I had youth, he could take it all.

The footage above was shot by a simul­ta­ne­ous­ly sig­nif­i­cant man in Kahlo’s life, the pho­tog­ra­ph­er Nick­o­las Muray, who put in a ten-year shift as her man on the side. Yet she pre­ferred Rivera to Muray as hus­band mate­r­i­al, divorc­ing and re-mar­ry­ing Rivera even as she spurned Muray’s pro­pos­als. But then, bohemi­an artists have always had their own way of han­dling mar­ried life; I recall one par­tic­u­lar framed Mex­i­can news­pa­per clip­ping dis­played at the Fri­da Kahlo Muse­um, a sto­ry about how, despite his rep­u­ta­tion for ugli­ness, Rivera nev­er once had to suf­fer in the female depart­ment.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Fri­da Kahlo and Diego Rivera Vis­it Leon Trot­sky in Mex­i­co, 1938

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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