Learn more about the construction of this property, commissioned by Rivera to architect Juan O'Gorman.
The buildings incorporate functionalist elements which, in several cases, have been adapted to the Mexican landscape. Examples of this are the pilotis (slender columns that support the first-floor structure) and the use of concrete, baked clay panels, electrical installations, exposed drainage, open floors in the style of vestibules, and a spiral staircase—the central component which stands out from everything else.
Le Corbusier's influence can be seen in the building that houses the studio, given its similarity to the house-studio belonging to the painter Amedeé Ozenfant, which was built in Paris in 1922. Both structures boast a saw-tooth roof and an external spiral staircase with concrete handrails. Inside, the work space or painter's studio is the highlight, because of its dimensions and double height.
The house that was lived in, known today as "Casa Frida," was the part designed to be used as a home, with a bathroom, kitchen, dining room, and bedroom, and a studio on the second floor for Frida Kahlo. The proportions of the spaces are smaller in scale, since functionalism advocated building very small homes.
On the roofs of both buildings are terraces that can be used as viewpoints, and the two spaces are connected with a bridge. From there, the area of San Ángel can be made out, with its colonial and neocolonial buildings that clashed completely with these two newer houses, signaling a modernization in construction.
Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo returned from their stay in the USA in 1934 and only lived in the houses as a couple for a short time, because Frida left Diego and moved to the "Casa Azul" (Blue House) in Coyoacán, where she had spent her childhood and youth. Even when they were subsequently reconciled, they kept separate homes and did not live together again.
This was annexed to the museum site after an exhaustive restoration project, during which original elements of the house were recovered. These included the outline or sinopia of the mural "Between Philosophy and Science There Is a Significant Difference," painted by Juan O'Gorman himself in what was the dining room, as well as the reconstruction of the spiral staircase.
Rivera's "Judases" (Mexican papier-mâché dolls), popular toys, and collection of pre-Hispanic objects looked on, as his endless hours spent working added to the myths and controversy surrounding his prolific artistic production. In his studio, he was accompanied by the muses who inspired his many portraits, while he also worked on his murals. His love of art can be felt in his work and in his environment. He treasured, drew, wrote, and painted life itself, and his everyday perspective extols Mexican values.