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Catalina Island Museum Presents Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray Opening

Opening June 20

Left to Right: Frida on White Bench, New York, 1939 and Frida with Magenta Rebozo, New York, 1939 by Nickolas Muray.

The Catalina Island Museum presents Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray opening June 20 and on view through September 27, 2020. The intimate exhibition displays the personal life of Mexico’s most prolific female artist, Frida Kahlo, captured through the lens of longtime friend, lover and confidant Nickolas Muray. The work includes approximately 50 photographic portraits and prints from 1937-1946, including six images that have never before been exhibited in the United States, and a number of intimate letters of correspondence between Kahlo and Muray.

“With art comes the power to inspire, heal and explore the world from different viewpoints and Catalina Island Museum is honored to share in this experience with Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray,” said Julie Perlin Lee, Executive Director of the Catalina Island Museum. “Today more than ever, the importance of resonating with various generations, cultures and perspectives has become a pivotal moment in history and, as an art institution, we are proud to invite the public along for this eye-opening journey.”

In May 1931, Hungarian photographer Nickolas Muray (1892-1965) traveled to Mexico on vacation where he met one of Mexico’s most famous artists, Frida Kahlo. The two became engaged in a romance that continued on and off for the next ten years and a deep friendship that lasted until her death in 1954. Throughout these years, Muray captured numerous images of his beloved Frida that bring to light her deep interest in Mexican heritage, her life experiences and the significant people with whom she shared close friendships.

Having experimented with color in his early work, Muray found his most colorful model in Kahlo and while his archives contain over 25,000 images, Kahlo famously became his most photographed subject. His portraits of the artist are integral to the world’s understanding of who Frida Kahlo was as an individual behind her artwork. He went on to become a successful New York fashion and commercial photographer known for his portraits of celebrities, politicians, socialites and artists including Kahlo.

Muray was known for pushing the limits of several unique printing processes used during the period and many are on display in the creation of the portraits in Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray. The carbro process, patented in 1905, and the carbon process, patented in 1855, were techniques best known for their production of incredible image permanence and rich, glossy dark tones that can be found throughout the exhibition. Snapshots of Kahlo’s private life can also be seen through the silver gelatin process, the dominant black-and-white photographic process of the twentieth century. Digital pigment prints are also included in this exhibition that enhance both print quality and archival characteristics.

This traveling exhibition has been organized through the Nickolas Muray Archives and is circulated by GuestCurator Traveling Exhibitions located in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The museum wishes to thank Friends of the Museum for sponsoring the exhibition. A special members event and reception is planned for a later date. The museum also plans to screen Frida (2002) in its outdoor amphitheater before the exhibition closes in September.

Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray will be on display in the Catalina Island Museum’s John and Hasmik Mgrdichian Gallery from June 20 - September 27, 2020. Visitors are strongly encouraged to pre-purchase admission. Tickets are now available for advance purchase at and are $17 for adults, $15 for seniors (60+), students (with valid ID), and members of the military (active and veterans). Children 15 years and younger receive free admission with adult admission. Members of the museum receive free admission.

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