Painting The Kiss by Gustav Klimt

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The Kiss (Der Kuss) is an oil and gold leaf canvas painted in 1908 by the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt (1862 – 1918), an artist belonging to the current of symbolism, contemporary to art nouveau. This will be the most famous painting by the painter, made in the so-called ‘golden age’ (1898-1908) of his professional career.

The kiss is framed in the beginning of the modern age, where the concept of eroticism begins to germinate in art and in society. In addition, the techniques used are varied, such as frescoes and mosaics.

The painting The Kiss measures 1.8 meters high by 1.8 meters long and is currently in the Belvedere Gallery in the Belvedere Palace in Vienna, Austria.

Analysis of the painting The Kiss by Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt is said to have painted the kiss taking inspiration from the gold-painted backgrounds of Byzantine mosaics in the Church of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy, and their finishes.

The use of gold leaf to paint the painting recalls the ancient technique of the iconography of saints, which is used by Klimt deliberately to cause contrast with the theme of eroticism that was beginning to be talked about more openly.

Likewise, the background of the painting The Kiss gives the sensation of timelessness and creates, in turn, a frame that gives the sensation that the lovers are floating in the golden space.

The lovers in The Kiss are only based on a kind of meadow full of flowers from Mother Nature, which further nourishes the symbolism of love.

The decoration of the layers is different between men and women. A black and white chess cape for men, with some spirals that unites the groups and symbolically breaks the hardness of the flat geometry. For women, a layer of mosaics, colored circles and flowers.

In the intertwining of the layers, ‘the kiss’ happens where the man lets go of his head, literally and figuratively, to give the woman a kiss and, although she moves away, she lets herself be carried away in the embrace, with her eyes closed and with the body without resistance.

Lovers represent the connection of opposite energies. The man shows a black and white, binary contrast, and shows his seductive will by drawing the woman into her arms. The woman balances this energy with her affection, warmth and color that feeds back from ‘mother nature’ through the threads of flowers coming out of her feet.

The painting The Kiss represents the ‘feeling’ of self-loss that lovers feel. The feeling of full, strong, sensual and spiritual love.

Some consider the painting The Kiss the most famous in the world and not the painting Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci.

It may interest you: Art nouveau (modernist art)

Andrea Imaginary

Technical review by Andrea Imaginario

University professor, singer, Bachelor of Arts (Cultural Promotion mention), with a master’s degree in Comparative Literature from the Central University of Venezuela, and a doctorate in History at the Autonomous University of Lisbon.

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