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What I Saw in the Water, 1938 by Frida Kahlo

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.

Frida Kahlo's Masterpieces

  • The Broken Column
    The Broken Column
  • Self Portrait with Necklace of Thorns
    Self Portrait with Necklace of Thorns
  • Roots
    Roots
  • The Two Fridas
    The Two Fridas
  • The Wounded Deer
    The Wounded Deer
  • Me and My Parrots
    Me and My Parrots
  • What the Water Gave Me
    What the Water Gave Me
  • Self Portrait Along the Boarder Line
    Self Portrait Along the Boarder Line
  • My Grandparents My Parents and Me
    My Grandparents My Parents and Me
  • My Dress Hangs There
    My Dress Hangs There
  • Self Portrait as a Tehuana
    Self Portrait as a Tehuana
  • Self Portrait in Velvet Dress
    Self Portrait in Velvet Dress
  • Tree of Hope Remain Strong
    Tree of Hope Remain Strong
  • Two Nudes in the Forest
    Two Nudes in the Forest
  • Without Hope
    Without Hope