As cultural commentators, we’re often reluctant to describe important figures from history as ‘homebodies’, preferring instead that they travel the world in search of their individual fulfilment. When it comes to Frida Kahlo, however – as with many of her similarly revolutionary female peers – it is in part because of her affiliation with her home that her legacy has become such a powerful one. One only need look to Georgia O’Keeffe’s New Mexico farmhouse, or Ray Eames’ role in creating she and husband Charles’ eponymous modernist LA landmark, to see how, in the hands of women artists, the domestic is swiftly and organically transformed into the iconic.
Kahlo’s case is nonetheless an extraordinary one. Confined for large stretches of her life to a sickbed, first in her childhood home and later in the Casa Azul, or Blue House at Coyoacán, her home was at once a sanctuary, a studio, a palace and a prison, displaying all the paraphernalia of a prolific artist and animal lover alongside those of a woman confined. This autumn, a new book published by Frances Lincoln celebrates the profound pleasure Kahlo took in arranging and organising her various homes throughout the course of her 47 years; Frida Kahlo at Home is a voluptuous celebration of the life and work of the artist, viewed through the prism of her various residences. In its pages, decorative artworks become a highly curated archive, and the development and use of different rooms a biographical progression.