“The Dream” by Frida Kahlo Analysis

The Dream in 1940. It is also sometimes referred to as The Bed. It is an oil painting on canvas, and it measures 29 1/8 x 38 ? inches. It is a symbolic painting done in a Naive and Surrealism style. The painting depicts a self-portrait of Kahlo laying and sleeping in a four poster bed. The bed is surrounded by clouds. The clouds are not dark or stormy looking rather airy and light in appearance. Above the bed is a skeleton laying on two pillows.

The skeleton is wired with explosives holding a bouquet of flowers. The skeleton signifies Judas. In Mexican culture at Easter time they burn and hang paper mache skeletons representing Judas in a symbolic act representing destruction of all negative energies. This Judas has what almost looks like a smile or smirk. In the painting Kahlo is covered in a yellow blanket or sheet that is being overgrown with leafy vines. The roots of the vine are on the blanket at the foot of the bed. The bed is really bold and stands out it the painting. Kahlo’s body looks much smaller in comparison to the bed and the skeleton.

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The bed is very symbolic for Kahlo as is described by Wendy Osgerby “ All the important events take place in a bed: conception, birth, and death. Beds are symbolically resonant, measurers of time, and for Kahlo an ever-present reality as she was confined to hers as a child, teenager and woman. It was also in bed that Kahlo began to paint” (Osgerby 701). Most of Kahlo’s paintings that are done on canvas or in smaller scale were done while she was confined to her bed due to childhood polio and then as a teenager from a horrible bus accident where she was seriously injured.

The clouds may symbolize that she is dreaming in the painting or may also represent heaven. The vines could symbolize life while the wired explosives might signify death. Many reviews and opinions of this painting believe that this particular painting is about her many illnesses and injuries and it implies that death is always looming overhead. There is also a quote that may help understand what the painting represents showing that it is truly a painting symbolizing the artist’s emotions and why she created her paintings. “I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality”- Frida Kahlo.

In days before her death she wrote “I hope the departure is joyful and I hope never to return” in her journal. The painting may signify life and death but not in a dark or morbid meaning of death. The painting is more of a statement that death is inevitable and always looming above us.


  1. Osgerby, Wendy. 1001 Paintings You Must See Before You Die. Ed. Stephen Farthing. New York: Quintet Publishing Limited, 2006. Print Moffat, Charles. The Lilith Gallery Network. http://www. arthistoryarchive. com/arthistory/surrealism/Frida-Kahlo. html. 2007. Web. 6 Jun. 2012

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