Kahlo photographs on offer after long museum tour

Dealer says sale was not original intention

NEW YORK. A collection of photographs of Frida Kahlo that has toured American and European museums over the past five years is for sale through its final exhibition space in New York. The pictures are part of the exhibition “Frida Kahlo and the Mexican Renaissance” at Throckmorton Fine Art (10 July-6 September).

Since 2003, about 40 photographs have travelled in the show, “Frida Kahlo: Portrait of an Icon” which opened at the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego and then went to the National Portrait Gallery in London and the Casas de las Américas in Madrid.

Throckmorton will be the tour’s 16th venue. The gallery, which owns the works, organised the display of the photographs during the tour and was paid an undisclosed fee by each venue. But gallery owner Spencer Throckmorton insists that the museum tour was not organised with a sale in mind, and noted that he might resist selling certain pictures, which he acquired from the Kahlo family in Mexico in the 1970s. These include one photograph taken by Kahlo’s father Guillermo in 1932, which has tears drawn on her face and is inscribed, “from your friend, who is very sad, Frida Kahlo”. It is currently priced at $150,000.

Other images in the collection include portraits of Kahlo (1907-54) taken by Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Lola Alvarez Bravo, Tina Modotti and Edward Weston, and photographs from her own collection. These include an unsigned wrinkled picture of Kahlo, her husband Diego Rivera and a monkey. Kahlo carried this photograph in her purse. Spencer Throckmorton attri­butes it to Manuel Alvarez Bravo, and is selling it for $25,000. Lola Alvarez Bravo’s 1954 post-mortem deathbed portrait of Kahlo, in Indian dress, is priced at $7,500. A 1932 photograph of Kahlo taken in New York City by Carl Van Vechten when Kahlo and Rivera were there for Rivera’s Rockefeller Center mural commission is priced at $8,500.

Compared with Kahlo self-portraits, the photographs are inexpensive. Roots, a 1943 Kahlo self-portrait with roots protruding from her body, sold at Sotheby’s in 2006 for $5.6m. Lola Alvarez Bravo’s photograph of Kahlo framed by a tree is on offer for $8,500.

Interest in the pictures could be high. Kahlo, a cult figure, has broad crossover appeal that ranges from collectors of Latin American art and surrealism to feminists and show business figures including Madonna. The current Frida Kahlo retrospective marking the artist’s centenary opened at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art on 14 June (until 28 September). It contains two rooms of photographs of Kahlo.

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