The Dream (The Bed) by Frida Kahlo

The Dream (The Bed), by Frida Kahlo, is a 1940 oil painting where sleep, dreams and death entwine with a strong surrealist undertone. In this painting Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) sleeps in a bed that resembles the four-poster bed where she actually slept every day, a vine climbs along her body in a seemingly uncertain string of life, as the skeleton on top, awake and booby-trapped, relentlessly reveals the inevitable reality of death.

The Mexican artist used to play down the black feelings of the painting saying it is an “amusing reminder of mortality”. In real life Kahlo used to sleep with a papier-mâché skeleton on the canopy of her bed, a strange artefact which her companion Diego Rivera called “Frida’s lover”. The tone of the painting is strongly connected with the Mexican culture which was Frida’s background, where the dead and the living coexist in harmony and feast on the Day of the Dead. Few paintings evoke so perfectly the Latin expression Somnus est mortis frater (sleep is the brother of death).

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