Posted 1 year ago
The Kiss (In German: Der Kuss) was painted by the Austrian Symbolist painter Gustav Klimt between 1907 and 1908, the highpoint of his "Golden Period", when he painted a number of works in a similar gilded style. A perfect square, the canvas depicts a couple embracing, their bodies entwined in elaborate robes decorated in a style influenced by both linear constructs of the contemporary Art Nouveau style and the organic forms of the earlier Arts and Crafts movement. The work is composed of conventional oil paint with applied layers of gold leaf, an aspect that gives it its strikingly modern, yet evocative appearance. The painting is now in the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere museum in the Belvedere palace, Vienna, and is widely considered a masterpiece of the early modern period. It is a symbol of Vienna Jugendstil—Viennese Art Nouveau—and is considered Klimt's most popular work.
Klimt was 45 when he painted The Kiss, still living with his mother and two unmarried sisters. Behind the respectable facade he was a man with a ferocious sexual appetite; he fathered at least three known illegitimate children. The Kiss reflects his fascination with eroticism, and while its overall architecture is obviously phallic, it is renowned because of its tender representation of the female model who is tightly embraced within the overall geometry of the picture and whose body is formed from the most detailed, colourful and best expressed abstract passages of Klimt's career. In its tenderness, the painting deviates from his typical portrayal of woman as distant femme fatales; here the female is the protagonist, rather than merely the object of desire.