Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Luis Barragan and the Blue House

Casa Luis Baragan

The site I was most excited about seeing in Mexico City was Casa Luis Barragan. Luis Barragan (1902-1988) is the most important Mexican Architect of the 20th century whose own house and studio I had seen many photographs of and was keen to see in reality.

Walking through the suburb of Tacubaya past the simple rendered exterior walls with rectangular windows located on the facade according to internal functions of many buildings and arriving at the Barragan house it was clear that the Barragan house when viewed from the street appears to be yet another typical building, or collection of buildings, of the area. The bold and high grey wall with windows which are located not according to an idea of composition but the requirements of the interior give little away and apart from a few clues that allude to what lies beyond fits seemlessly and inconspicuously into its surroundings and it was not possible at any point to see into the interior of the house.

On the front door a notice informed us that the house was closed until the 5th of January, the day I was to fly back to New York. It was very disappointing to be so close to seeing a house I have wanted to see for many years and yet could not enter.

Blue House

After lunch Dave and I headed to Frida Kahlo and Diego Riviera's 'Blue House' a beautiful house around a large and peaceful internal garden where Kahlo and Riviera lived out their fascinating and tumultuous lives from Kahlo's birth to her death. It is a place where art, life, death, architecture and nature are fused together. The Kahlo family lived in the house since 1904 and was originally painted white. Kahlo and Riviera painted the house a vibrant iridescent blue which was inspired by the bold use of colour in Mexican art and architecture.

The house is filled with objects and art which give the house a strong atmosphere of passionate lives and a more personal atmosphere than that of a museum. As well as creating a fascinating interior world that is seperated from the world outside by tall and think blue walls.

The spatial arrangement of the house reflected the lives of it's inhabitants and guests. The house is a series of interconnected volumes constructed of stone around a large internal courtyard. The main building was extended in 1937, where Trotsky and his wife lived, and then in 1947 became Kahlo's studio. After Riviera and Kahlo's divorce the couple lived in separate bedrooms until Frida's death in 1954.

The house has been open to the public since 1958 and is considered a monument to many 20th century artists.

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