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Gustav Klimt’s "The Kiss"

Gustav Klimt’s "The Kiss"

“The Kiss” is more than likely one of Gustav Kilmt’s most popular paintings. The brilliant subtlety of using contrasting shapes and figures to depict love and power along with the use of gold leaf, sparked not only interest in the start of the 20th Century, but also controversy. Although compared to some of his other paintings, this one seems PG-13, it was still thought to be somewhat explicit. Though, it isn’t until you take a deeper gaze into this painting, when you truly begin to understand the depiction of love that is brought to life.

At first glance, you see two figures or faces of sorts in a seemingly empty space or maybe even a sea filled of gold. Some say that the saturation of gold is meant to represent the emergence of love in an eternal bliss, or a sense of a royal couple. Torward the top of the painting, the gold does seem to darken, yet it is still peppered with golden flakes, or possibly stars.

The second thing you might notice is that they are in fact dressed in robes covering the majority of their bodies, leaving only the face, hands, and neck bare. You also notice that the woman isn’t exactly kissing back, or even facing him for that matter, yet the moment is still very intimate on both sides.

You see her body is facing the man, yet her head is turned away from him giving the suggestion of a last minute retreat of her lips. Her eyes are relaxingly shut almost in a moment of relief. Her left hand delicately holds the hand of the man which is placed on her left cheek, her right hand also placed delicately around the neck of the man.

By the simple body language of the man, you can sense the power dynamic in the relationship, and almost understand the moment they’re in. You cannot see the face of man as clear as you can see the back of head as he places his lips on her, but by the way he extends his neck around the woman that he desperately wants her affection. Maybe the woman holds the true power, which is that of desire. No amount of money can buy love.

Another subtle yet obvious way the two contrast is how the shapes on their robes reflect each other. The man’s robe is decorated in masculine blocky squares and rectangles, while the robe of the woman is decorated in soft, feminine circles.

Klimt was a brilliant artist, never to disappoint with his use of elusive imagery, subtle details, and sense of mysticism. The need to know what the characters in any of his paintings are thinking or feeling, almost makes your teeth grind with curiosity, and that is the sole reason we are writing about him and one of his most influential pieces so close to Valentine’s Day.

To see some interesting fun facts about the history of this painting click here. 

Join us this Valentine’s Day at one of our public paint events, and don’t forget to tell your friends!

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  • Michele Manjarrez