What the Water Gave Me


This painting is sometimes referred to as “What I Saw in the Water“. Unlike most of Frida’s paintings, this one has no dominant central image. 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 painting is somewhat “surreal” although Frida never considered herself a “surrealist”. Her most painful moments are represented by macabre theatrics bordering on the surreal. As she soaked her aching broken body, her mind began to drift. 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. Frida gave the painting to her photographer lover Nickolas Muray in payment for a $400 debt she owed him.

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