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FRIDA KAHLO & NICKOLAS MURAY

Opening: 01 July 2006
Duration: 02 July - 27 August 2006
Curator: Valerio Dehò

In this year’s photo exhibition, kunst Meran will present a photographic and art-historical sensation: the—mainly color—Kahlo portraits of the New Yorker photographer Nickolas Muray who was Frida Kahlo’s lover and confidant in the thirties and forties.

Nickolas Muray was born in Hungary in 1892, immigrated to the United States in 1913, and opened his own studio in Greenwich Village, New York, in 1921. In 1938, when Frida Kahlo traveled to New York for her first solo exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery, Muray was already a successful advertisement and fashion photographer, mainly known for his portraits of celebrities.

Muray had experimented with color-photographic techniques at an early point in time, and he could hardly have asked for a more colorful and attractive model than Frida Kahlo: the painter presented herself in front of his camera as masterly as in her own paintings—as a Mexican peasant woman, in the costume of an opera diva or movie star, with the pathos of a social-revolutionary activist, and, of course, as a painter.

The joint photographic project of Muray and Kahlo brought forth a wealth of pictures that was first shown more than sixty years later, in 2004, at Schirmer/Mosel in Munich and is a landmark in the history of early color photography. The photo book, also published by Schirmer/Mosel, is the first to show all the pictures, most of which were hitherto unpublished.

The American Kahlo-expert Salomon Grimberg wrote an essay on the passionate affair between the two artists which incorporates the letters between Muray and Kahlo, as far as they still exist.

The rare case of a great woman painter who, maimed by an accident and illness, rises from her body as a photographic model in glowing beauty—the pictures can almost be regarded as performance photos—is documented on 56 color and duo-tone plates. An illustrated index compiles the other material.

Salomon Grimberg’s study on the co-operation between the painter and Nickolas Muray is an important contribution to the Kahlo research of the past years.

Frida Kahlo on white Bench (carbo), 1939 – New York, in Nickolas Muray’s studio. © Copyrights by Nickolas Muray Photo Archives, LLC 2004