A long-lost audio recording could finally put a voice to an iconic body of work.
Frida Kahlo’s celebrated art and iconic unibrowed face are globally recognizable, but her voice was thought to have died with her — until now.
The National Sound Library of Mexico has unearthed what it thinks is a 1-minute, 29-second clip of the famed painter’s voice.
In it, a woman believed to be Kahlo reads from her essay “Portrait of Diego,” written to accompany a 1949 retrospective celebrating 50 years of her husband Diego Rivera’s artwork.
The recording was made for the pilot of the radio show “El Bachiller” (“The Bachelor”). It is thought to have aired in 1955, a year after Kahlo’s death, but is estimated to have been recorded in 1953 or ’54.
“With an Asiatic head from which dark hair grows, so thin and fine that it appears to float in the air, he is a gigantic, immense child, with a friendly face and a sad gaze,” what is thought to be Kahlo’s voice reads liltingly, in Spanish.
“His high, dark, extremely intelligent and big eyes rarely hold still. They almost come out of their sockets because of their swollen and protuberant eyelids — like a toad’s. They allow his gaze to take in a much wider visual field, as if they were built especially for a painter of large spaces and crowds.”
Although overshadowed by Rivera during her lifetime, Kahlo, more than six decades after her death, continues to command the public’s fascination. An exhibition of her art and personal belongings recently wrapped up at the Brooklyn Museum.
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