Frida Kahlo is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable figures in the history of art, and her commodified likeness can be seen emblazoned on products worldwide, from trinkets in tourist shops across Mexico to Barbie dolls to feminine hygiene products. But the National Sound Library of Mexico may have discovered something previously unknown to add to the Frida mythology—the sound of her voice.
The Mexican institution has discovered what it believes to be the only known recording of Kahlo’s voice. It’s estimated that the recording was made in either 1953 or 1954 as part of a pilot episode for the Mexican radio show “El Bachiller,” which aired in 1955 (Kahlo died in 1954). The episode was a profile of Kahlo’s husband, the artist Diego Rivera, and she read from her essay “Portrait of Diego,” which was published in a 1949 catalogue for an exhibition of his work. As translated by the AFP, sections of it read:
He is a gigantic, immense child, with a friendly face and a sad gaze [. . .] His high, dark, extremely intelligent and big eyes rarely hold still. They almost come out of their sockets because of their swollen and protuberant eyelids—like a toad's. They allow his gaze to take in a much wider visual field, as if they were built especially for a painter of large spaces and crowds.
A different translation can also be read at Google Arts & Culture.
Authorities are continuing to investigate whether or not the recording is indeed Kahlo’s voice. Pável Granados, national director of the National Sound Library of Mexico, said at a press conference that Kahlo’s voice was the “most requested and sought-after” by visitors, adding that: “Frida’s voice has always been a great enigma, a never-ending search. [. . .] Until now, there had never been a recording of Frida Kahlo.”