Nickolas Muray (15 February 1892 -
2 November 1965) was a Hungarian-born American photographer.
Muray attended a graphic arts school in Budapest, where he studied
lithography, photoengraving, and photography. After earning an
International Engraver's Certificate, Muray took a three-year course
in color photoengraving in Berlin, where, among other things, he
learned to make color filters. At the end of his course he went to
work for the publishing company Ullstein. In 1913, with the threat
of war in Europe, Muray sailed to New York City, and was able to
find work as a color printer in Brooklyn.
By 1920, Muray had opened a portrait studio at his home in Greenwich
Village, while still working at his union job as an engraver. In
1921 he received a commission from Harper's Bazaar to do a portrait
of the Broadway actor Florence Reed; soon after he was having
photographs published each month in Harper's Bazaar, and was able to
give up his engraving job.
Muray quickly became recognized as an important portrait
photographer, and his subjects included most of the celebrities of
New York City. In 1926, Vanity Fair sent Muray to London, Paris, and
Berlin to photograph celebrities, and in 1929 hired him to
photograph movie stars in Hollywood. He also did fashion and
advertising work. Muray's images were published in many other
publications, including Vogue, Ladies' Home Journal, and The New
Between 1920 and 1940, Nickolas Muray made over 10,000 portraits.
His 1938's portrait of Frida Kahlo, made while Kahlo sojourned in
New York, attending her exhibit at the Julien Levy Gallery, became
the best known and loved portrait made by Muray. Muray and Kahlo
were at the height of a ten-year love affair in 1939 when the
portrait was made. Their affair had started in 1931, after Muray was
divorced from his second wife and shortly after Kahlo's marriage to
Mexican muralist painter Diego Rivera. It outlived Muray's third
marriage and Kahlo's divorce and remarriage to Rivera by one year,
ending in 1941. Muray wanted to marry, but when it became apparent
that Kahlo wanted Muray as a lover, not a husband, Muray took his
leave for good and married his fourth wife. He and Kahlo remained
good friends until her death, in 1954.
After the market crash, Murray turned away from celebrity and
theatrical portraiture, and become a pioneering commercial
photographer, famous for his creation of many of the conventions of
color advertising. He was considered the master or the carbro
process. His last important public portraits were of Dwight David
Eisenhower in the 1950s.
Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks
Frida Kahlo, 1939
Frida Kahlo in New York, 1946
Frida Kahlo on Bench, 1939
Frida in Blue Dress, 1939
Frida painting "The Two Fridas"
Frida and Diego with Hat
Frida and Diego with Gas Mask
Frida Painting "Me and my Parrots"
Frida Icon, ca. 1939
Nude, ca. 1920
Anthony and Cleopatra, Fredric March, Claudette Colbert, Cecil B. De
American Cyanamid, Woman & Lamb, Carbro Print 1946
McCall's Style & Beauty Cover: Shoes
Babe Ruth, 1927