A visitor named Angela allows as how she has a fondness for Mexico and all things Frida.
The residence of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Mexico City is a fascinating place to visit. When I was there, I was not allowed to take pictures in the interior. What follows therefore is a slide show of snapshots that I took in the courtyard of the Blue House in Mexico City on 22 March 2010. Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera lived there for almost 25 years. These are only snapshots. They were taken precisely two years to the day prior to the photo in the preceding entry. This was back before I had any idea what people were talking about when they used words like, for example, “resolution.” However, if these snapshots pique your interest, there are many other, and better, photographs of the Blue House easily available elsewhere on the internet.
Actually, the only thing this slide show accomplishes is to establish that the Blue House is indeed blue, as you can see. Although, there is one photo of their own little pyramid that Frida and Diego had constructed in their courtyard.
The following snapshot is not of the Blue House. As you can plainly see again, this house is not blue. I simply did not know how to keep it out of the slideshow. Rather, it is the house where Leon Trotsky lived for quite some time just up the street from the Blue House. The brick structure on the top is a fortified guard shack constructed for his security there. I had forgotten that I took this snapshot. The urge to digress is overcoming me. I feel myself being swept out to sea on the rip tide of a grand digression.
The Mexican Mural Movement that came about after the Revolution of 1910 was the brainchild of a brilliant but now controversial man, José Vasconcelos. He served as Secretary of Public Education for a time and succeeded in getting permission to have the walls of the public buildings in Mexican City and elsewhere covered in murals in the service of the ideals of the Revolution. These murals in their depictions were to give the indigenous people of Mexico their proper place in the history of the country. They were also to serve as history lessons for the citizens who could not read.
I think it is fair to say that three painters dominated this Mexican Mural Movement, and all three should be given their due. They were José Clemente Orozco, Davíd Alfaro Siqueiros, and of course, Diego Rivera. All three were Marxists of one shade or another as was Frida Kahlo. It was she after all, along with Diego Rivera, who persuaded President Lázaro Cárdenas–a link to my own little article on that great man–to give asylum to Trotsky. Trotsky had been hounded through Europe. None of the countries there had the guts to give him shelter. Siqueiros was a Stalinist, and a true believer at that. In fact Siqueiros personally participated in a home invasion by a group of would-be assassins in an unsuccessful attempt to kill Trotsky. They did succeed, however, in thoroughly shooting up the place.
I tell all of that to make one simple point. It strikes me that Diego Rivera wore his pistol mostly for show. Davíd Alfaro Siqueiros, on the other hand, was not only a great artist but also a gunman.
No, there is another simple point, too. There have been cultures in which writers and artists mattered. None of these artists were effete personalities closeted away in some sub-culture inhabited only by art sycophants. They were rollicking, public personalities. Some of them, like Frida, came to be widely adored by the people. I have taken to referring to her as “Santa Frida.” This makes Mexicans laugh, but none has as yet expressed any disagreement with the idea.
Proletarian Victim by Siqueiros.
We do not think of any of these painters as abstract artists of course. Nevertheless, there is an interesting but unfinished abstract mural by Davíd Alfaro Siqueiros in Bellas Artes uptown here that fills a large room. He lived and worked in San Miguel de Allende in his younger days. You can see photos of that mural by clicking here.
How’s that for a digression? Sometimes, the enormity and grandeur of my digressions take my own breath away.