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‘Warm and melodious’: sound library discovers what may be only recording of Mexican artist

https://frieze.com/article/could-be-frida-kahlos-voice

Frida Kahlo in front of a cactus fence, San Angel, 1938. Courtesy: V&A, London; photograph: © Nickolas Muray.

Frida Kahlo in front of a cactus fence, San Angel, 1938. Courtesy: V&A, London; photograph: © Nickolas Muray.

A voice recording of iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo has been discovered by the National Sound Library of Mexico, it has been reported. While the artist’s image is ubiquitous, her voice had not been heard since her death in 1954.

The recording, which researchers estimate was made between 1953–54, was found in a pilot episode of the radio show El Bachiller, broadcast after Kahlo’s death in 1955. In the episode, which included a segment on Kahlo’s husband and muralist Diego Rivera, Kahlo reads an extract of ‘Portrait of Diego’ (1949), a catalogue essay written for an exhibition of Rivera’s work at the Palace of Fine Arts, Mexico City.

In the recording, Kahlo describes her husband: ‘His bulging, dark, hugely intelligent, large eyes find it hard to stop moving — almost out of orbit — with their swollen, protruding, toad-like eyelids, which are set very far apart, more than others’ eyes,’ she reads.

While the authenticity of the recording is still being investigated by authorities, it is believed that this may be the only surviving recording of the artist’s voice.

The voice in the recording seems to match an account of her voice by photographer Gisele Freund, who described it as ‘warm and melodious.’

The national director of the library explained in a press conference that Kahlo’s voice was the ‘most requested and sought-after […] Frida’s voice has always been a great enigma, a never-ending search,’ he continued. ‘Until now, there had never been a recording of Frida Kahlo.’

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