Saturday, December 8, 2018

Mexican Baroque at the National Museum of Art

Bill and I could not have known what was waiting for us after enjoying the 19th Century landscape paintings on the second floor of Mexico City's National Museum of Art,
We climbed the persuasive staircase
and discovered first, this lovely ballroom.
But the biggest surprise was around the corner when we were thrust into the heart of the Mexican Baroque. I read now that 17th century Spanish painters thrived in New Spain (Mexico). By the 18th century a generation of native Mexican painters were creating religious art of the highest quality.
 Miguel Cabrera (ca. 1695-1768) is a justly famous Mexican painter. Here is his Saint Francis Xavier, 1750-1760.
Detail from Saint Francis Xavier. What are these putti doing with this water-filled clamshell?
As well as the art, I was interested in the gallery guards and their body language. I took this picture without knowing Bill was taking my picture. So I get to see my own body language.
The painting to the right of the door is by Luis Juarez (ca. 1585-1639)
Child Saints Justo and Pastor, ca. 1653 
 Here's another Luis Juarez: Saint Michael Archangel.
And another Juarez: Guardian Angel. Bill loves the child's demeanour and outfit.
We discovered room after room of Baroque delights.
I liked this The Virgin of Carmen with Saint Theresa and Saint John of the Cross, 1708,
by Juan Rodriguez Juarez (1675-1728). I like the evocation of a heavenly realm floating so near the mundane.
Here's another Juan Rodriguez Juarez. The Assumption of the Virgin, ca. 1717. Love that heavenly realm!
Here's one last example of Roman Catholic Baroque exuberance. Juan Patricio Morlete Ruiz (1713-1772): The Heart of Maria, ca. 1759. They don't paint pictures like this anymore.
Looks like the gallery has been renovated recently. The flow is quite fresh. These statues are called Liberty (on the left) and America and are by Pedro Patino Ixtolinque, c.1825.
Was fun to see other photographers at work. He would have had to get special permission to use that tripod.
The galleries wrap around a courtyard
so fresh air and natural light are always only a step away.
A very satisfying museum, well worth a visit.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

A wander through Coyoacán

After a morning at the Frida Kahlo Museum, wander down the Avenida Ignacio Allende. It will take you into the Coyoacán neighbourhood and some of Mexico City's oldest Spanish architecture.
You will pass the Mercado de Coyoacán which has a wide variety of stalls selling tourist souvenirs, fruits and vegetables, fish and meat products. 
Continue down Ignacio Allende into the Coyoacán neighbourhood and some of Mexico City's oldest Spanish architecture. Along one side of the Plaza Hildago you will find this one-story Colonial palace. It was built in 1755 on property previously owned by Cortez the Conquistador.
Many of the buildings in Coyoacán are one-story high. I wonder if they have a central courtyard like at Frida's home?
Also on the Plaza Hildago
is the remarkable 16th century Church of Saint John the Baptist.
The impressive Baroque interior has been recently restored.
The church is still an active centre of worship.
John and I were delighted by the strange effigies. We liked this mannequin behind wavy glass
and the Spanish intensity of these images
of the suffering Christ.
A wonderful surprise was the lovely two-story cloister with its exotic planting.
A monastery once filled the large garden, Jardin Centenario, in front of the church.
We loved this fountain with its snarling coyotes at the centre of the plaza. BTW, the area's name,  Coyoacán, means "place of coyotes" in a local indigenous language.
Beyond the fountain we found the original gateway to the monastery grounds.
At the monastery gates we decided to return home by a different metro stop, Viveros, by walking the picturesque Avenida Francisco Sosa.
Its tree-lined streets are narrow and lined with residential buildings and shops.
We particularly liked the tiny Capilla de Santa Catarina in all its ochre glory.
Weary, we slipped down a side street, Avenida Progreso, a short cut to our metro stop. We shall return to Coyoacán and its neighbours on our next visit.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Frida Kahlo Museum, CDMX

When you are walking along Calle Londres searching for the Frida Kahlo Museum,  you will know that you've arrived when you get to this deep blue building at Calle Ignacio Allende.
They don't call it the Casa Azul for nothing, m'dears.
It will probably be surrounded by a line-up of visitors as well. Only a limited number of visitors can enter at one time.
We really had no clear idea of what to expect when we entered after a half hour wait.
The first rooms are galleries of Kahlo and Diego Rivera's early works and private collection. Here is Kahlo's Self-portrait, Detroit (unfinished), 1932
and her Frida and the Cesarian (unfinished), 1931.
There's a quiet charm to her early Portrait of a Young Girl (unfinished)
but the ravishing El marxismo dara la salud a los enfermos, ca 1954 with Karl Marx reaching out for her shows Kahlo at her surreal best!
The rest of the house contains the rooms where Frida and Diego lived with their collection of Mexican art like these 19th century portraits and preserved sea turtle in a sunken sitting room.
We loved the bright kitchen with the ceramic cookware and bright colours.
Here is Diego's worktable
and Frida's wheelchair, worktable and easel, in their light-filled studio. Fun to think of them working side by side.
Ever the librarian, John was curious about the books in their private library..
I loved this folk candelabra. Imagine it with lit candles.
Frida's death mask lies on her single bed. Note the mirror installed in the canopy of her four-poster.
John wondered if the books on the small shelf by her bed were for reading or whether they were sentimental favourites which she liked to have near.
Nice corner with a gramophone and a mid-century lamp.
Their ceramic collection was simply superb.
Great drawing!
Outside the house in the large inner courtyard there was a Day of the Dead altar
with a skeletal angelic musician
and a dapper skeletal couple..
The courtyard garden is quiet, exotic
and colourful.
Go early to visit Casa Azul -- Frida is an international star now and all visitors to Mexico City seem to want to see her family home.