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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Kahlo’s lover photographs life, photos displayed at Tucson Museum of Art


    Her unibrow, stoic gaze and colorful clothing have made Frida Kahlo a pop culture symbol. But there is more to this famous Mexican artist than the designs that adorn handbags, coffee mugs and posters.

    “Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray” at the Tucson Museum of Art tells the story behind Kahlo’s brightly colored self-portraits. Through a series of photographs by Nickolas Muray, the exhibit unearths a story of unstable romance and multiple relationships in Kahlo’s personal life.

    Hungarian immigrant Nickolas Muray is known for photographing famous figures such as celebrities and presidents. Muray took more than 10,000 pictures between 1920 and 1940, but Kahlo was one of the celebrities whom he photographed the most — because the two were also lovers. Although Kahlo was originally married to famous muralist Diego Rivera, Kahlo had many affairs with men and women.

    Muray and Kahlo’s affair began in 1931, and the two often kept in contact with lengthy love letters, packaged trinkets and lonely kiss marks on parchment, all of which are on display in the exhibit.

    “Nick, with all my heart, with all my love, with all my memory, I think of you,” Kahlo wrote in one love note. The photographs offer a visual narrative through Kahlo and Muray’s intimate 10-year relationship. Muray eventually married another woman, but Muray and Kahlo remained good friends until her death in 1954.

    “You are able to see her public image versus the private image,” said museum docent Gail Spahr.

    Kahlo’s artwork is prevalent in popular culture, but this is an opportunity to see the original iconic images, said Ann Seiferle-Valencia, curator of Latin American Art. As one museum attendee noted, the exhibit “says so much about (Kahlo’s) life.”

    The exhibit’s photographs lead museum visitors through a chronological narrative of Muray and Kahlo’s relationship.

    “It’s all connected visually,” Seiferle-Valencia said. Muray’s photographs portray Kahlo, candidly in her home in Mexico or posing with animals, in color and black and white. The exhibit also features a short documentary about Kahlo’s life. A portion of the gallery is dedicated to displaying her native Tehuana costume favorites and jewelry, which exude her feminine power and charisma, Spahr said.

    Through her life of suffering, divorce and multiple affairs, the exhibit shows visitors not just Kahlo’s role as an iconic and celebrated artist, but her interesting and evocative story as a human being.

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