A beat-up copy of The Works of Edgar Allan Poe is expected to sell for over $20,000 at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers on August 9th. It is no ordinary used book – it belonged to the celebrated Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo, who covered the book with doodles, inscriptions, paint and collaged leaves. To Frida, the book provided an outlet for her to engage in dialogue with the Poe’s mysterious and macabre poetry, and the result is one of the most intriguing artist’s books to appear on the market.
The most interesting inscription appears at the beginning of the book, where Frida has the written following in crayon: Pues si, Frida Kahlo, Auxocromo Cromoforo, 1922, 1945, 23, 12, 35, always. A close reading, offered by Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernist expert, Luis-Martin Lozano, points directly to Frida’s relationship with her husband, Diego Rivera: Frida Kahlo met Diego Rivera in 1922; she wrote in the book in 1945; she met Diego when she was 12 (actually 15, but she claimed she was born in 1910 to appear younger) and he was 35; the 23 refers not only to the years between when Frida wrote in the book and when she met Diego (1922-1945), but also to their difference in age. These numbers and connections are coupled with the word always and the symbol for infinity. Auxocromo Cromoforo, a phrase repeated at the end of selected poems throughout, further alludes to Frida’s relationship with Rivera; the phrase first appeared in a poem Frida wrote in her diary, which translates: My Diego, Mirror of the Night … You could be called Auxocromo – the one who takes color. I Cromoforo – the one who gives the color. You are all the combinations of the numbers. The book was previously in the collection of Teresa Proenza, Diego Rivera’s secretary until his death.
“The inscriptions and collages form an extraordinary record of the artist’s creative process,” notes Director of Books and Manuscripts, Mary Williams. “Kahlo’s works are exceptionally rare. On the occasion one does appear at auction, prices quickly exceed $200,000, with the highest price ever fetched being $5.6 million in May 2006. “The present collaged work is without precedent at auction,” Williams adds. “We expect the artist’s book to exceed its pre-sale estimate of $20-30,000.” The book was previously in the collection of Teresa Proenza, Diego River’s secretary and close personal friend of Frida Kahlo. For more information, please contact Leslie Hindman Auctioneers at 312.334.4236 or firstname.lastname@example.org. A fully illustrated catalogue is available at www.lesliehindman.com.