The Nickolas Muray story

 

Nickolas Muray
(1892-1965) was a Hungarian photographer who, in 1913, immigrated to New York City where became internationally known as a portrait photographer. His circle of friends
in the art culture in Mexico in the 1930's included Miguel Covarrubias, Rufino Tomayo, Diego Rivera and, especially, Frida Kahlo, with whom he exchanged love letters in 1939.
   

From Frida Kahlo:The Brush of Anguish by Martha Zamora: "One affair of great consequence to Frida was with Nickolas Muray, a well-known Hungarian photographer who made some of the most beautiful photographs of Frida." In one letter to Frida, Muray said: "The one of me is eternally grateful for the Happiness that the half of you so generously gave."

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Between 1920 and 1940, Nickolas Muray made over 10,000 portraits. Who would have thought that the one of Frida Kahlo, c. 1939, would bring him greater acknowledgment than any? But it did. The portrait, made in the winter of 1938-39, while Kahlo sojourned in New York, attending her exhibit at the Julien Levy Gallery, became the best known and loved portrait made by Nickolas Muray. Muray and Kahlo were at the height of a ten-year love affair in 1939 when the portrait was made. Their affair had started in 1931, after Muray was divorced from his second wife and shortly after Kahlo's marriage to Mexican muralist painter Diego Rivera. It outlived Muray's third marriage and Kahlo's divorce and remarriage to Rivera by one year, ending in 1941. Muray wanted to marry, but when it became apparent that Kahlo wanted Muray as a lover, not a husband, Muray took his leave for good and married his fourth wife. He and Kahlo remained good friends until her death, in 1954. After Kahlo received the portrait in Mexico, she wrote to Muray on June 3, 1939: "Nick darling, I got my wonderful picture you sent me, I find it even more beautiful than in New York. Diego says that it is as marvelous as a Piero de la Francesca. To me it is more than that, it is a treasure, and besides, it will always remind me that morning... [when] we went to your shop to take photos. This one was one of them. And now I have it near me. You will always be inside the magenta rebozo (on the left side)." Carbro copies of the portrait are in the permanent collection of the Frida Kahlo Museum, The George Eastman House, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Nickolas Muray Archives has commissioned Sal Lopes, master printer, to produce this edition of hand-coated platinum prints, limited to 50 numbered prints and 5 artist proofs.

-- Salomon Grimberg

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