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On The Side

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November 13, 2020- January 2, 2011

Photographer Nickolas Muray (1892-1965) came to America in 1913 from Hungary. In the Twenties, as his reputation grew, he photographed everybody who was anybody. At the end of his 45-year career as a New York photographer, most Americans had seen, at one time or another, Muray’s portraits of celebrities, Presidents, or artists.

Between 1920 and 1940, Nickolas Muray made over 10,000 portraits. He began photographing Frida Kahlo in color in the winter of 1938-1939, while Kahlo sojurned in New York, attending her exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery; and he continued to do so until 1948. Muray photographed Frida more often than any other single person.

Muray and Kahlo were at the height of an on-again, off-again ten-year love affair when he began photographing her using the Carbro technique. 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. The love affair outlived Muray’s third marriage and Kahlo’s divorce and remarriage to Rivera by one year, ending in 1941. Muray wanted to marry Kahlo, but when it became apparent that she wanted Muray for a lover, not a husband, he took his leave for good and married his fourth and last wife. He and Kahlo remained good friends until her death in 1954.

After Kahlo received the first of Muray’s Carbro portraits in Mexico, she wrote to Muray on June 3, 1939: “Nick darling, I got my wonderful picture you send to 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 of 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)”.

The showing here at the Longmont Museum is part of a national tour over a two and a half year period containing forty-six photographic prints reproduced from the original negatives. The tour was developed and managed by Smith Kramer Fine Art Services, an exhibition tour development company in Kansas City, Missouri.