Her artwork is known by all, her style of clothing inspired the greatest designers, and she even appeared in a short series of silent films... but have we actually heard her voice? A recording that could contain the voice of the great Frida Kahlo has been made public.
There is currently no recording of the voice of the famous Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. The questions that still linger over her intonation or her way of expressing herself – elements that would significantly complement our knowledge of the artist – could very well be shortly solved. A recording dating from 1949 was found last January, after 70 years spent in the archives of Alvaro Gálvez y Fuentes, a star host of the ‘golden age’ of Mexican radio.
The recording was discovered by the National Sound Archives, an area housing the largest sound archives in Mexico. Its director, Pavel Granados, told a press conference that "Frida's voice has always been an enigma, a permanent quest", and that "until today, there was no recording of Frida Kahlo".
The recording reveals a melodious voice reading a text written by Kahlo in 1949, which describes and pays tribute to her husband Diego Rivera, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his artistic career.
"His dark, extremely tall, intelligent eyes rarely stop. [...] They allow his gaze to encompass a much larger field of vision, as if they were designed specifically for an artist painting large spaces. "
The archive is still being analyzed to determine if it is Kahlo's voice that is recorded, and if Pavel Granados is in possession of the first known record of Kahlo. According to him, several clues could confirm the hypothesis, for example the description made in the article of the French photographer Gisèle Freund: "Frida smokes, laughs, speaks in her warm and melodious voice". Experts will continue their study of the archives of Alvaro Gálvez y Fuentes and consult other sources.
The recording was released last month by Mexican Minister of Culture Alejandra Frausto.
The artist’s auction record was made in 2016 at Christie's, when the work Dos Desnudos in El Bosque (The Tierra Misma) sold for $8,005,000. The work, signed and dated 1939, is a scene of dreamlike love, painted with a meticulous fidelity to the elements of texture, color, form and light. Far from being depicted in an idyllic landscape, the two naked women are staged in rough terrain under a stormy sky.
Cover image: Nickolas Muray, ‘Frida Kahlo on White Bench, New York’ (2nd Edition) (detail), 1939, image © Nickolas Muray Photo Archive / Throckmorton Fine Art