Art Sunday: Frida Kahlo – What the Water Gave Me


What the Water Gave Me is an oil painting by Frida Kahlo that was completed in 1938. It is sometimes referred to as What I Saw in the Water.

Frida Kahlo’s What the Water Gave Me has been called her biography. As the scholar, Natascha Steed, points out, “her paintings were all very honest and she never portrayed herself as being more or less beautiful than she actually was.” With this piece she reflected on her life. Kahlo released her unconscious mind through the use of what seems to be an irrational juxtaposition of images in her bathwater. In this painting, Frida paints herself, precisely her legs and feet, lying in a bath of grey water.

The painting was included in Kahlo’s first solo exhibit at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York City in November 1938. It is now part of the private collection of Surrealist art collector Daniel Filipacchi.