When Marilyn Monroe met the photographer Eve Arnold, the platinum blonde asked her new roommate to take pictures of her at all times. This resulted in a photography series that showed the actress' most private moments, from behind the scenes pictures of her most memorable films, to the tragic period after her breakup with playwright Arthur Miller. There’s no doubt that Arnold’s images are an important proof of what the diva dealt with behind the glaring spotlights.
Photographers, especially those who capture the lives of people we admire, have taught us how to see life from different perspectives. Another great example of this is Frida Kahlo. Much has been written about her, to the point that it seems that everything about her life has already been said. But, although she’s one of the most iconic characters of Mexican culture, there’s a story about her that’s still unknown to many.
It all began in 1931, when photographer Nick Muray was working in Mexico. During his visit he met Kahlo and immediately fell in love with her; of course, the attraction was mutual, or at least that’s what their letters reveal.
«I want to go back to you. I miss every movement of your being, your voice, your eyes, your hands, your beautiful mouth, your laugh so clear and honest. YOU. I love you my Nick. I am so happy to think I love you –to think you wait for me– you love me.»
The documents related to Kahlo and Muray’s relationship were kept hidden in an envelope that was discovered by the family of the photographer in the early nineties. Together with the letters, they also found a series of photographic negatives showing the secret love story that up until that time was based on mere speculations.
It wasn’t just an affair as the many ones Frida had. During that time, Diego Rivera had started a new affair, a fact that Frida saw as an opportunity to start a happy relationship with the photographer, who had just gotten a divorce. Her love for Muray, which can be seen in the photographs, lasted for about ten years.
«Your telegram arrived this morning and I cried very much –of happiness, and because I miss you with all my heart and my blood. Your letter, my sweet, came yesterday, it is so beautiful, so tender, that I have no words to tell you what a joy it gave me. I adore you, my love, believe me like I never loved anyone –only Diego will be in my heart as close as you– always»
Perhaps what kept them together was their relatively similar spirits; both were dealing with heartbreak, and, somehow, both completed each other in a unique way. However, Kahlo’s love for Diego was bigger, which made her leave Muray and go back to the arms of the muralist.
«My whole being is deeply grateful for the happiness that the half of you so generously gave me...»
These words were written by Muray after the affair ended, and although distance had dissipated the contact between the couple, he was present in her life until she passed away. One of the discovered negatives was used on 2012 in the cover of Vogue Magazine, making Frida the first Mexican woman to appear on the cover of that publication.
Translated by María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards