What I saw in the water, Frida Kahlo 1939


Awesome card I got from Roelof in the Netherlands.

This painting is sometimes referred to as “What the Water Gave Me”. Frida rarely talked about her paintings but in a conversation with Julien Levy she described this painting as: “It is an image of passing time about time and childhood games in the bathtub and the sadness of what had happened to her in the course of her life”. Unlike most of Frida’s paintings, this one has no dominant central focus. It is a symbolic work illustrating various events from the artist’s life and incorporates numerous elements from her other works as well as some that appeared in her later works. The style of this painting is “surrealistic” although Frida never considered herself a “Surrealist” and didn’t even know about surrealism at the time it was painted. What the water gave her were images of past and present, life and death, comfort and lost. In the midst of this vision is Frida, drowned in her imaginings and bleeding from the corner of her mouth. She is kept afloat by a lasso that serves as a tightrope for insects and a miniature dancer.

Although the painting is signed and dated “1939”, it was actually painted the year before. The unsigned and undated painting was exhibited in Paris by Andre Breton in January of 1939. When it was returned to Mexico Kahlo signed it and dated it “1939”. Frida gave the painting to her photographer lover Nickolas Muray in payment for a $400 debt she owed him. (Source)


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