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Frida Kahlo and Nickolas Muray

Facts about Frida

1. She wanted her birth to coincide with the beginning of the Mexican Revolution

 

Frida Kahlo was born on July 6, 1907 in Coyoacan, Mexico City, but she often told people she was born in 1910, three years after her actual birth, so that people would directly associate her with the Mexican Revolution that began in 1910. Kahlo became an embodiment of Mexican culture, especially indigenous culture, but she herself wasn't fully Mexican: her father was born Carl Wilhelm Kahlo in Germany, either of Jewish and Hungarian ancestry, as Frida claimed, or from a long line of German Lutherans, as some new research argues. Frida's mother, Matilde Calderon, was of indigenous Mexican and Spanish descent.

2. Her work "Roots" set the record for a Latin American piece of art

 

Frida Kahlo was a central figure in the Neomexicanismo Art Movement in Mexico which emerged in the 1970s. Her art has been called folk art due to traditional elements and some call it Surrealist though Kahlo herself said, "They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn't. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality." In May 2006, her self-portrait "Roots" sold for US$5.6 million dollars setting an auction record for a Latin American piece of art.

3. Frida Kahlo's face is on money

 

The 500 Mexican peso bill is unique in that it contains two portraits, one on each side. The duo are the famous couple, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, two of the country's most celebrated artists and personalities. The 500 peso bill was released to mark the centennial of the Mexican Revolution and contains the Diego Rivera quote written in tiny script:

"It has been said that the revolution does not need art, but that art needs the revolution. That is not true. The revolution needs revolutionary art. ”

4. She became a painter after a near fatal accident

 

On September 17, 1925 Frida and her friend Alex was riding in a bus when it crashed into a street trolley car. Recuperation after the bus accident took over a year, during which time Kahlo gave up her pre-med program and began painting. Her father, an artist, lent her his oil pants and brushes, while her mom commissioned a special easel, so that Kahlo could paint in her hospital bed and had a mirror placed in the canopy, enabling Kahlo's self-portraiture.

5. She is known as the master of Self-Portraits

 

In her career, Frida Kahlo created 143 paintings out of which 55 are self-portraits. Kahlo said, "I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best." Her self portraits often include interpretations of physical and psychological wounds. Frida Kahlo's self-portraits are considered among the finest ever created. Her most famous self-portrait is perhaps "Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird".

6. Frida's painting is the first work by a 20th-century Mexican artist to be purchased by an internationally renowned museum

 

In 1939, the Louvre bought Kahlo's "The Frame," making it the first work by a 20th-century Mexican artist to be purchased by an internationally renowned museum. Despite such an accomplishment, Kahlo was still known for most of her life, and the 20th-century, as the wife of Diego Rivera, whom she married in 1929. Since the 1980s, though, Kahlo has been known for her own merit. Several biographies have been written and movies about her life have been made. Her former home, La Casa Azul, is now a museum. The largest exhibit ever of her paintings was held on the 100th anniversary of her birth and it broke all attendance records at Mexico's Museum of the Fine Arts Palace, although it was only open for 2 months.

7. Frida Kahlo was a bisexual

 

Kahlo's marriage with Rivera was tumultuous with both having multiple affairs. Frida had affairs with both men and women. Rivera even had an affair with Kahlo's younger sister Cristina which infuriated Kahlo. They divorced in 1939 but remarried a year later. Although their second marriage was as troubled as the first, Kahlo remained married to Rivera till her death.

8. She had an affair with the founder of the Red Army

 

The founder of Red Army, the famous Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky came to Mexico to receive political asylum from the Soviet Union. He first stayed with Rivera and later had an affair with Kahlo. Kahlo created a painting titled "Self-Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky" to commemorate her brief affair.

9. Frida called Hitler "the lost child" in her painting

 

Her complex 1945 painting, "Moses," presents the sun as "the centre of all religions." The top portion of the painting contains gods; the middle section is full of "heroes" like Alexander the Great, Martin Luther, Napoleon, and - most interestingly - Hitler, whom Kahlo called "the lost child." The bottom of the painting is filled with the masses and scenes relating to the process of evolution. In the middle is the infant Moses, with the third eye of wisdom. The painting was inspired by the book "Moses and Monotheism by Sigmund Freud," which makes a link between Ancient Egyptian beliefs, Moses, and the origins of monotheistic religion.

10. She became famous a couple of decades after her death

 

Kahlo died 20 days after her 47th birthday on July 26, 1954. A few days before her death, she wrote in her diary: "I hope the exit is joyful - and I hope never to return - Frida". Kahlo was moderately successful during her lifetime and it was only several years after her death that her work became widely acclaimed. During her lifetime she was mainly known in Mexico as Rivera's wife, now she is popular worldwide and Rivera is known as her husband.

11. Two famous movies have been made on her life

 

Numerous articles, books and documentaries have been made about Kahlo's life and art, including the bestseller Frida: The Biography of Frida Kahlo (1983) by Hayden Herrera. The movie "Frida, naturaleza viva" was released in 1983 and was a huge success. In 2002 another biographical film "Frida," in which Salma Hayek plays her role, grossed over $US 50 million and won two Academy Awards.

Learn even more at FridaKahlo.org

Tour Frida Kahlo's Home - Virtually

A dream of all Frida Kahlo fans is to one day visit and tour her home, La Casa Azul (The Blue House). Now is your chance! The home is operated as The Frida Kahlo Museum and they recently released a virtual tour. Click here to take the tour.

Photographic Printing Processes of Nickolas Muray

There are several printing processes utilized for the production of the images in Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray

Carbro Process 


The Carbro process derives its name from the fact that it is a cross between carbon and bromide prints. A Carbro print is an assembly of three bichromated gelatin tissues, each pigmented with one of the primary subtractive colors, cyan, magenta, or yellow. The image on each tissue is formed as a result of a chemical reaction that occurs when the bichromated gelatin tissue is placed in contact with a silver bromide print. The silver bromide prints, each made from a black-and-white separation negative cause the tissues' gelatin to harden in proportion to the density of the print. The unhardened gelatin is then washed away. When these tissues are placed in exact register onto a paper support, they combine to produce a full-color (tricolor) photograph. The Carbro process, patented in 1905 as the Ozobrome, was adapted from carbon printing techniques developed in the

1850s. Though monochromatic Carbro prints were made, this process is best-known through its vivid three-color images. Carbro prints are also noted for their image permanence. Carbro printing is among the most rarely practiced of the surviving traditional processes.

 

Carbon Process

 

Developed by British inventor Sir Joseph Wilson Swan (1821-1914) carbon process prints were made by coating a thin material with carbon gelatin and potassium bichromate. Once the image was exposed, the image areas hardened and the non-image areas were washed away. The picture was then transferred to a more stable base, such as paper or glass. At the time it was developed the carbon process was significant for producing permanent prints that did not fade. Carbon prints are noted for their permanence and their rich and glossy dark tones. The carbon print process was patented in France in 1855 by Alphonse Louis Poitevin, and reached the height of its popularity between 1870 and 1910. Today only those with an interest in older traditional processes generally use it. 

Silver Gelatin Print 

Silver gelatin print is a generic term for prints that use light sensitive compounds of silver salts. Like albumen prints, gelatin silver print images are suspended on a paper's surface as opposed to being embedded in its fibers. Unlike albumen prints, however, gelatin silver prints are "developed-out" instead of "printed-out"; the paper registers a latent image that becomes visible only when developed in a chemical bath. The developing-out procedure allows for much shorter exposure times than printing out and results in an image less susceptible to fading. Developed at the end of the 19th century, gelatin silver printing has been the dominant black-and-white photographic process of the twentieth century. 

Digital Pigment Print 

Digital prints are created utilizing digital technologies to transfer the contents of a digital file directly to a printing substrate. While many technologies are available, most fine art printers use a pigment-based ink printed on paper for both print quality and archival characteristics. The digital pigment prints included in Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray have been professionally created using only pigmented inks, most archival (these have actual pigment in the ink mixture just like what might be used in paints), and printed on 100% cotton archival watercolor paper. Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Baryta is 100% cotton, and has a multi-layer lustre coating that mimics traditional photographic paper.

 

 

Click here to learn more about Nickolas Muray. 

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