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Suitcases with original prints by Nickolas Muray.
2008, 16 August
Digital color image
Private collection of Mimi Levitt
Photograph taken by Mimi Levitt, the daughter of Nickolas Muray, in Moab, UT, USA.
In an email from Mimi Levitt to Alan Griffiths (Aug 29, 2008) she puts this photographic find in context:
Finally I remembered to ask my brother Chris (Nicholas Christopher Muray) what he remembered about our 'discovery' in the suitcases. As I recall, it was really a total shock to find the envelope with about 70 negatives from Mexico. They were all b/w, 2 1/4" x 2 1/4" silver nitrate.
We had really only expected to find images of the 2 of us growing up. When one's father is a professional photographer, one learns to expect the words "just one more" when his camera is out and shooting. Of course, there were hundreds of pictures of us as kids - as babies-in-the-bathtub, at boarding school, riding horses, playing in the yard (in addition to our apartment in NYC, for a while we owned a house in Brentwood, Calif, and Dad would fly between coasts depending on his 'jobs') and so forth. We found pictures of our mother - all sorts --- on horseback, glam shots, in her pilot's suit - as well as pictures of our father. We also discovered letters written by our half-sister Arija when she was in France, just before WWII broke out (Arija died in 1941). There were Kodachrome slides of paintings that we used to own (which now reside at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin) by famous Mexican artists (Kahlo, Rivera, Covarrubias, Tamayo, Olin, Siqueiros and others), and it was fun revisiting the images of these paintings that hung on our living room walls as we were growing up.
But it was really a big surprise to find the envelope with negatives in it. I looked at them with the naked eye - and even though looking at a negative, a few were familiar to me. I recognized the photo of Frida Kahlo at the easel painting "The 2 Frida's" -- and another of Frida and Diego with a gas mask. It was very exciting -- I immediately took them to a local photo lab in Moab, and asked the manager to make contact sheets/prints of them all, so that we could see what was really there. Of all the images, maybe a couple of dozen had Frida and Diego in them, and we chose to start printing limited edition fine art prints of 6 of the best that included Frida and Diego.