Frida Kahlo at forty-four years old, 1951. Photograph by Gisèle Freund

Frida Kahlo at forty-four years old, 1951. Photograph by Gisèle Freund

Gisèle Freund moved from France to Argentina at the outbreak of World War II. Having worked as a portrait photographer among the upper class, as she traveled through South America the artist now felt charged to change her calling. She observed, “Previously I had practiced the portrait, but to know the American continent I had only once choice: to become a photojournalist.” Freund was an inaugural member of Magnum Photos, and was entrusted with covering the most significant news stories of the southern hemisphere.

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During her extensive travels, Freund became fascinated with indigenous Mexican art. She arranged an introduction to Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in 1950, photographing the pair together and alone. The photographs are collected in Frida Kahlo: The Gisèle Freund Photographs (Abrams), an intimate album featuring more than one hundred rare images, many of which have never been published before. Taken in the studio, in the garden, and in private moments, we are brought into the marriage of two minds, two spirits and souls forever intertwined.

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Kahlo is one of the most intriguing figures of modern times, an icon of freedom, beauty, and suffering. Her spirit is luminescent, in life and in death, and so we continue to ponder her image, much as she, one of our greatest self-portraitists, did. A portrait of the artist is always their subject, and for Kahlo, that subject was her vast inner world. “I am my own muse, I am the subject I know best. The subject I want to know better,” Kahlo said.

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Frida Kahlo with her dogs in Coyoacán, Mexico City, 1951.

Frida Kahlo with her dogs in Coyoacán, Mexico City, 1951.