Lost Voice of Mexican Icon Frida Kahlo Surfaces

26 June, 2019

Mexican painter Frida Kahlo's self-portraits made her world famous. She and her husband, the painter Diego Rivera, revolutionized Mexican art in the first half of the 20th century. But no one had a recording of her voice.

Until now, maybe.

The National Music Library of Mexico released a radio recording of Kahlo reading the story Portrait of Diego. She had written the story about her husband.

FILE - In this April 14, 1939 file photo, Mexican painter and surrealist Frida Kahlo poses at her home in Mexico City.
FILE - In this April 14, 1939 file photo, Mexican painter and surrealist Frida Kahlo poses at her home in Mexico City.

The Mexican government announced the discovery of the recording. It said studies suggest that the voice on the recording is Kahlo's, but they were not able to be completely sure.

"It's a finding that has many elements that can be identified as the (possible) voice of Frida Kahlo, but isn't 100 percent," said Secretary of Culture Alejandra Frausto.

Kahlo spent long periods in bed after being severely injured in a bus accident in her mid-twenties. She painted, creating 200 art works in the bright colors of Mexican culture.

She has long been considered a model of feminism.

Pavel Granados is the director of the Fonoteca, Mexico's national music library. He said the recording was found in January. It was from a radio program by the well-known Mexican broadcaster Alvaro Galvez y Fuentes. Granados said the recording probably dates to 1953 or 1954. It was shortly before Kahlo died at the age of 47, after suffering from an infection from an operation to remove part of her leg. The exact cause of her death has never been confirmed.

The recording is less than two minutes long. Her young, clear voice is filled with energy. She says of Rivera, "he is a big boy... with a friendly face and a sad gaze." She goes on to describe his "large eyes."

Granados said he shared the recording with people who knew the Mexican artist. Some identified it as Kahlo's voice, but others were not sure.

Investigations will continue, Granados said. "Frida's voice has been a great enigma." He added that Fonoteca has been searching for it since it opened.

I'm Susan Shand.

The Reuters News Agency reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in This Story

self-portrait – n. a painting or drawing of yourself that is done by yourself

feminism - n. the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities

gaze – v. to look at someone or something in a steady way and usually for a long time

enigma – n. someone or something that is difficult to understand or explain