Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Insider's Perspective: Frida Kahlo's Diego y Yo

Drawing. Click to enlarge.

Frida Kahlo (Mexican, 1907-1954)
Diego y Yo (Diego and I), 1930
Charcoal and ink on paper
29.5 x 21.5 cm
Nickolas Muray Collection of Modern Mexican Art
© 2009 Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust. Av Cinco de Mayo No. 2, Col. Centro, Del. Cuauhtemoc 06059, Mexico, DF

Frida Kahlo's Diego y Yo is one of her earliest works in a series of portraits chronicling her marriage to the great muralist, Diego Rivera. Inscribed "San Francisco, Calif Diciembre 1930," Diego y Yo was created during the couple's first trip to the United States, where Rivera was commissioned to paint murals at the Luncheon Club of the California Stock Exchange and the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute). Four months later, while still in San Francisco, Kahlo painted a colorful wedding portrait of herself standing hand-in-hand again with her husband in a nineteenth-century folkloric style, which she would later develop into the extraordinary autobiographical artwork that she is known for today.

Kahlo's additional ink inscription on the drawing, "For Nick with love, Frida," adds a layer of intrigue to the artwork's provenance as "Nick" is celebrity photographer Nickolas Muray, the artist's Hungarian-born collector and lover.

Muray met Kahlo in 1931, thanks to Mexican caricaturist and author Miguel Covarrubias. Along with Diego y Yo, the Nickolas Muray collection at the Harry Ransom Center includes Still Life with Parrot and Fruit (1951), from Frida Kahlo's last series of paintings created while she was confined to a wheelchair, and her important oil on canvas, Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird (1940), currently on view at the Ransom Center through January 3, 2010. Spanning the years 1925-1954, Muray's collection features eight artists whose works reflect a range of aesthetic shifts of this artistic period in Mexico.

—Peter Mears, Ransom Center Associate Curator of Art

Learn more about the Nickolas Muray Collection at the Ransom Center

Watch video documentary A World of Interest: Frida Kahlo's Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird