The Iconic Frida Kahlo Comes to Gilcrease this Summer

Frida Kahlo
Nickolas Muray, Frida in Pink and Green Blouse, Coyoacán,
1938, Carbon process print

Gilcrease Museum presents Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray, an exhibition of photographs of Frida Kahlo, on view beginning July 10 through September 11, 2016. This exhibition provides an intimate look at Frida Kahlo, Mexico’s most prolific and well-known female artist, through the photographic lens of her longtime friend and lover, Nickolas Muray.

In May 1931, Muray (1892-1965) traveled to Mexico on vacation where he met Kahlo (1907-1954), a woman he would never forget. The two started a romance that continued on and off for the next 10 years and a friendship that lasted until her death in 1954.

Approximately 50 photographic portraits taken by Muray of Kahlo comprise the exhibition, Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray. The photographs, dating from 1937 to 1946, explore Muray’s unique perspective — in the 1930s and 1940s, he was Kahlo’s friend, lover and confidant. Muray’s photographs bring to light Kahlo’s deep interest in her Mexican heritage, her life and the people significant to her with whom she shared a close friendship.

Born in Hungary, Muray became a successful New York fashion and commercial photographer known for his portraits of celebrities, politicians, socialites and artists. Having experimented with color in his work from early on, he found his most colorful model in Kahlo. Muray was a prolific photographer, his archives containing more than 25,000 images. Muray photographed Kahlo more than any of his other subjects. These portraits of Kahlo have made their way into a variety of media and popular culture and are integral to the world’s understanding of Kahlo, the individual behind her artwork.

Frida Kahlo was born on July 6, 1907, in Coyocoán, Mexico City, Mexico. Considered one of Mexico’s greatest artists, she began painting after being severely injured in a bus accident. Kahlo later became politically active and married fellow communist artist Diego Rivera in 1929. She exhibited her paintings in Paris and Mexico before her death in 1954.

This traveling exhibition has been organized through the Nickolas Muray Archives and is circulated by GuestCurator Traveling Exhibitions located in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Title sponsor of the Gilcrease Museum 2016 exhibition season is the Sherman E. Smith Family Charitable Foundation. Generous support is also provided by: Mervin Bovaird Foundation, C.W. Titus Foundation and M.V. Mayo Charitable Foundation.

To augment the exhibition, several programs have been planned. A “From My Point Of View” lecture will feature Cynthia Graves, director of GuestCurator Traveling Exhibitions, Santa Fe, the exhibition organizer, who will talk about the photographs of Nikolas Muray at noon on Aug. 4. Guests may bring a brown bag lunch to the talk.

On Aug. 26 the museum is hosting “TGIF Frida Friday” from 7 to 9 p.m. This free event will celebrate the life and legacy of Frida Kahlo, one of Mexico’s most influential artists. There will be Frida-inspired music, appetizers and cash bar. Then enjoy an after-hours visit to the exhibit, Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray.

The musical theater group Tres Vidas will perform from 2 to 3 p.m. and again from 7:30 -9 p.m. on Sept. 10 in the Tom Gilcrease Jr. Auditorium.  Tres Vidas is based on the lives of three legendary Latin American women: Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, Salvadoran peasant activist Rufina Amaya and Argentine poet Alfonsina Storni. The show features a wide stylistic range of music, including popular and folk songs of Mexico, El Salvador and Argentina. Cost is $8 for museum members, $10 for not-yet members.