04
May
09

Exhibition: ‘Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray’ at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo NY

Exhibition dates: 8th May – 5th July 2009

 

Nickolas Muray. 'Frida with Olmeca Figurine, Coyoacan' 1939

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965)
Frida with Olmeca Figurine, Coyoacan
1939
Colour print, assembly (Carbro) process

 

 

“Forty-seven exquisite colour and black-and-white photographs of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo by the American photographer Nickolas Muray are featured in this exhibition organised and circulated by Smith Kramer Fine Art Services. Muray and Kahlo first met in Mexico in 1931 and soon began a love affair that lasted ten years and continued as an enduring friendship throughout their lives. The photographs, selected from the Nickolas Muray Archives, capture the exotic mystery and proud beauty of Frida Kahlo through the eyes of this accomplished portrait photographer, who loved her deeply. Organised at the Albright-Knox by Associate Curator Holly E. Hughes, the exhibition will also include reproductions of Kahlo’s letters to Muray, explanatory wall texts, and an educational brochure.”

Text from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery website [Online] Cited 01/05/2009 no longer available online

.
Many thankx to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Nickolas Muray. 'Frida, Mexico, 1940' c. 1940

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965)
Frida, Mexico, 1940
c. 1940
Colour print, assembly (Carbro) process

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965) 'Frida with her sister Cristina, Nickolas Muray, and Rosa Covarrubias, Coyoacán' 1939

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965)
Frida with her sister Cristina, Nickolas Muray, and Rosa Covarrubias, Coyoacán
1939
Colour print, assembly (Carbro) process

 

Nickolas Muray. 'Frida Painting the Two Fridas, Coyoacan' 1939

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965)
Frida Painting the Two Fridas, Coyoacan
1939
Silver gelatin print

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965) 'Frida with Nick in her Studio, Coyoacán' 1941

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965)
Frida with Nick in her Studio, Coyoacán
1941
Silver gelatin print

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965) 'Frida with Granizo, Coyoacán' 1939

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965)
Frida with Granizo, Coyoacán
1939
Silver gelatin print

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965) 'Frida in the Dining Area, Coyoacán' 1941

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965)
Frida in the Dining Area, Coyoacán
1941
Gelatin silver print

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965) 'Frida and Diego, San Angel' 1941

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965)
Frida and Diego, San Angel
1941
Gelatin silver print

 

Nickolas Muray. 'Frida Kahlo' c. 1940

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965)
Frida Kahlo
c. 1940
Colour print, assembly (Carbro) process

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965) 'The Breton Portrait' 1939

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965)
The Breton Portrait
1939
Silver gelatin print

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965) 'Frida with Magenta Rebozo, New York' 1939

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965)
Frida with Magenta Rebozo, New York
1939
Colour print, assembly (Carbro) process

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965) 'Frida with Magenta Rebozo, New York' 1939

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965)
Frida with Magenta Rebozo, New York
1939
Colour print, assembly (Carbro) process

 

 

Nickolas Muray

In 1913, with the threat of war in Europe, Muray sailed to New York City, and was able to find work as a colour printer in Brooklyn.

By 1920, Muray had opened a portrait studio at his home in Greenwich Village, while still working at his union job as an engraver. In 1921 he received a commission from Harper’s Bazaar to do a portrait of the Broadway actress Florence Reed; soon after he was having photographs published each month in Harper’s Bazaar, and was able to give up his engraving job. In 1922 he also made a portrait of the dancer Desha Delteil.

Muray quickly became recognised as an important portrait photographer, and his subjects included most of the celebrities of New York City. In 1926, Vanity Fair sent Muray to London, Paris, and Berlin to photograph celebrities, and in 1929 hired him to photograph movie stars in Hollywood. He also did fashion and advertising work. Muray’s images were published in many other publications, including Vogue, Ladies’ Home Journal, and The New York Times.

Between 1920 and 1940, Muray made over 10,000 portraits. His 1938 portrait of Frida Kahlo, made while Kahlo sojourned in New York, attending her exhibit at the Julien Levy Gallery, became the best known and loved portrait made by 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, Peggy Muray. He and Kahlo remained good friends until her death, in 1954.

After the market crash, Muray turned away from celebrity and theatrical portraiture, and become a pioneering commercial photographer, famous for his creation of many of the conventions of colour advertising. He was considered the master of the three-color carbro process. His last important public portraits were of Dwight David Eisenhower in the 1950s.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965) 'Frida With Hand at Her Throat, Mexico City' 1940

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965)
Frida With Hand at Her Throat, Mexico City
1940
Colour print, assembly (Carbro) process

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965) 'Frida leaning on a sculpture by Mardonio Magaña, Coyoacán, Mexico' 1940

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965)
Frida leaning on a sculpture by Mardonio Magaña, Coyoacán, Mexico
1940
Colour print, assembly (Carbro) process

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965) 'Frida in Pink and Green Blouse, Coyoacán' 1938

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965)
Frida in Pink and Green Blouse, Coyoacán
1938
Colour print, assembly (Carbro) process

 

Nickolas Muray. 'Friday on White Bench, New York' 1939

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965)
Frida on White Bench, New York
1939
Colour print, assembly (Carbro) process

 

 

“An exhibition of photographs of the acclaimed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo taken by her friend and lover, the internationally renowned portrait photographer Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), will be on view at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery from May 8 through July 5, 2009. Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray, From the Collection of the Nickolas Muray Archives celebrates Kahlo’s life and work and comprises approximately fifty colour and black-and-white photographs, along with archival material, including excerpts from letters between Kahlo and Muray. The installation in Buffalo will feature Frida Kahlo’s Self- Portrait with Monkey, 1938, from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s Permanent Collection.

Born in Hungary in 1892, Nickolas Muray came to the United States in 1913, marking the beginning of his forty-five-year career living and working in New York City. Originally hired by Condé Nast Publications to prepare illustrations for magazines, in 1920 Muray set up a photography studio at his home in Greenwich Village. Following an assignment in 1921 for Harper’s Bazaar magazine to photograph the Broadway star Florence Reed, Muray’s career as a portrait and celebrity photographer took off. Soon he was photographing “everybody who was anybody” and his work was regularly featured in such publications as Vanity Fair, Vogue, and Ladies’ Home Journal.

Nickolas Muray and Frida Kahlo first met in Mexico in 1931 and soon began a love affair that lasted ten years and continued as a friendship that endured all their lives. The images included in this exhibition, dating from 1937 to 1940, were taken during the height of the couple’s on-again, off-again, ten-year love affair. The photographs included were selected from the Nickolas Muray Archives and capture the exotic mystery and proud beauty of Frida Kahlo through the eyes of this accomplished portrait photographer who loved her deeply.”

Text from the Artdaily.org website

 

Frida Kahlo. 'Self-Portrait with Monkey' 1938

 

Frida Kahlo (Mexican, 1907-1954)
Self-Portrait with Monkey
1938
Oil on masonite
40.6 cm × 30.5 cm (16.0 in × 12.0 in)
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York

 

 

“Of her 143 self-portraits, 55 include Kahlo’s pets. It is as though she saw them as an extension of her own self and being. Spider monkeys are known to have long, spindly legs and arms that look almost disproportionate to their body. Their strange appearance may have reflected Kahlo’s own discomfort with her physical body. Having contracted polio at an early age, she had one leg that was thinner than the other. She used colourful, large skirts to cover the disfigurement.

Kahlo doted on her pet monkeys. In her self-portraits, they are often shown sitting close to her, physically enfolding or grasping her in some way. They appear to be protective, friendly and gentle.

In many cultures, monkeys are used to symbolise lascivious, or primal behaviour. They are a mirror image of man, reminding him of his animal nature and close proximity to the natural world. Through monkeys, man sees his own connection to the animal kingdom with its uncontrollable, primal urges. In renaissance art, fettered monkeys were often used to symbolise men who are entrapped or bound by their desires.

In Kahlo’s paintings, monkeys do not appear in this way. They are more gentle, child-like and tender. Partially due to their wild natures, monkeys are often associated with fertility or lust in Mexican mythology. Kahlo’s trust and connection with her pets may have been in part due to her own feelings of inadequacy and frustration around her inability to carry to children. One of the reasons feminists celebrate Kahlo’s work is her unabashed claim to her own sexuality. She was not afraid to acknowledge her own sexual feelings or desires.

In Kahlo’s painting, the monkeys appear loyal. It feels as though Kahlo is connected with the creatures in some way. There is a bond there. Never the less, the monkeys also often appear by Kahlo’s shoulder or back, reflecting the image of a ‘monkey on your back’, a phrase commonly used to describe a problem or burden of some kind. With their association with animal nature, disfigured or primal humanity and lascivious primal urges, Kahlo may have felt at once supported by and burdened by her connection to her animal ancestors.”

Extract from Kitty Jackson. “Symbolism in Art: Frida Kahlo – Self Portrait with Monkey,” on the ArtDependence Magazine website monday September 4, 2017 [Online] Cited 20/01/2019

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965) 'Frida in Front of the Cactus Organ Fence, San Angel' 1938

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965)
Frida in Front of the Cactus Organ Fence, San Angel
1938
Colour print, assembly (Carbro) process

 

Nickolas Muray. 'Frida with Blue Satin Blouse, New York' 1939

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965)
Frida with Blue Satin Blouse, New York
1939
Colour print, assembly (Carbro) process

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965) 'Frida on Rooftop, New York' 1946

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965)
Frida on Rooftop, New York
1946
Colour print, assembly (Carbro) process

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965) 'Cristina and Frida, New York' 1946

 

Nickolas Muray (American, 1892-1965)
Cristina and Frida, New York
1946
Colour print, assembly (Carbro) process

 

 

Albright-Knox Art Gallery
1285 Elmwood Avenue
Buffalo, New York 14222-1096

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm
Closed Mondays, Tuesdays, and Independence, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Days.

Albright-Knox Art Gallery website

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6 Responses to “Exhibition: ‘Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray’ at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo NY”


  1. 1 Brenda
    January 14, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Is there any way to find out about the copyright privileges to any of these pictures? If I needed to use one for educational purposes at my university, can I?

    • 2 Dr Marcus Bunyan
      January 15, 2011 at 3:51 am

      Hi presumably because the photographs are being used in an educational and not a commercial context this would be ok.
      Please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use point 1 below:

      17 U.S.C. § 107
      Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 17 U.S.C. § 106 and 17 U.S.C. § 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:
      1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
      2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
      3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
      4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
      The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.[1]

  2. June 5, 2010 at 5:39 am

    I should just say that this is a wonderful set of photos. I especially like the second two.

  3. June 4, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    I presume that should be “Frida on a white bench”, not “Friday on a white bench”


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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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