Nickolas Muray (American 1892-1965), AMERICAN CYANAMID, 1945, Carbro print, © Estate of Nickolas Muray
Nickolas Muray (American 1892-1965) A&P COFFEE, SANTA CLAUS, 1958, Carbro print, © Estate of Nickolas Muray
Born in Hungary in 1892, Nickolas Muray immigrated to the United States in 1913, working first as a printer and then opening a photographic portrait studio in
Greenwich Village in 1920. He became well known for his celebrity portraits, publishing them regularly in Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Ladies’ Home Journal, and The New York Times. After 1930, Muray turned away from celebrity and theatrical portraiture, and became a pioneering commercial photographer, famous for establishing many of the conventions of color advertising. He is considered the master of the three-color carbro process.
A colorful and charismatic character, Muray was a pilot, a member of the US Olympic fencing team, and the long-time lover of Frida Kahlo, whom he regularly photographed in some of his best-known work. He was a distinguished art collector, best known for his collection of twentieth-century Mexican paintings, and a regular columnist for the magazine Dance.
In 1974, Muray’s archive was donated to George Eastman House. The gift included approximately 25,000 images including photographic prints, negatives, transparencies and advertising tear sheets.
Jessica Johnston is an Assistant Curator in the Department of Photographs at George Eastman House. She manages numerous exhibitions and projects at the museum including our recent participation on the Flickr Commons.