(English) The Dallas Art Fair – Day 3
It is the closing day of the controversial symposium “Finding Frida” and there are twice as many people than the day before in the audience. The panel today seemed to start on a different tone. The owners of the Noyola Collection Carlos Noyola and Leticia Hernandez de Noyola asked the interpreter to read a letter they had written the night before. The letter repeated some of the allegations they have been talking about for the past two days. Other details of the letter, recognized the panel as experts who have studied the life and works of Frida Kahlo diligently for many years,”but they and other experts have only studied the works that are already known to the world or published in various forms”. The letter also was referring to the previous day when the conversation got a little heated while the panel insisted that the collection was a hoax and the Noyola’s included this paragraph on their letter: “The Noyola’s were invited to this symposium and were promised a civilized debate about this controversial issue. They are not in trial here.”
Mary Ann Martin
The first person to stand on the podium was Mary Ann Martin owner and director of Mary Ann Martin Fine Art in New York City. Trying to be as civilized as possible, she started by saying that in no way this was intended as an attack on the collection or the people who own it. She made a presentation of real and fake Frida’s. Before showing the images she said “Frida has been very active since her death in 1954” also mentioning a phrase from an article in a Mexican newspaper “Frida has been more productive in death than in life”. She then continued with a very interesting presentation.
Next on the podium was professor James Oles. Early in his presentation he said ”I’m not going to beat around the bush” referring to how Mary Ann Martin was very diplomatic with her presentation. He claims that there is no art historian or art work professional in the world who believes in this collection. He made several points about how this collection has nothing to back it up, “There are no photographs of the Noyola’s archive when Frida Kahlo was obsessed with photographs in her own archive and the Casa Azul as well as things that she gave to her friends were also photographed”. At the end of his presentation he said that this was just the tip of an iceberg of art fraud controlled by a mafia.
After the symposium, it was my only chance to talk to the Noyola’s before they left town. I approached Carlos Noyola who was nice but skeptic to talk to me and had his advisor ask me who I was and what my questions were. Once I answered, they were exceptionally cordial especially Carlos Noyola. I only had 2 questions: The first question was if they had a permit from the Frida Kahlo foundation to publish the book “Finding Frida Kahlo”. Their answer was that they did not require a permit from the Frida Kahlo foundation. The second question was if they had obtained a permit from the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA) to take the Frida Kahlo works out of Mexico and their answer was “yes”. We talked for at least 30 minutes until I had to go back to the Fair.
While the Noyola’s are trying to prove the provenance and authenticity of this collection, it really seems like the entire world of experts on the matter are not on their side. The Noyola’s really seem to believe that their collection is as real as it can be and they are devoted to convince the world that they have works worthy for everybody to enjoy. They say that the collection is not for sale and will never be and they would ultimately like to see the collection go to a museum or to an art institution. Regardless of whom is right, I personally feel sorry for the Noyola’s who could stay at home in peace and keep the collection to themselves but they are out there fighting the authenticity of the works. Will we ever know the truth? I’m sure that at the end, one of the sides will dominate enough to finally know what’s in the Noyola’s possession or at least we all hope to hear one day the end to this debate.
Stay tuned as I have lots more to say about the Dallas Art Fair including some very interesting interviews I had the chance to make.