This Kiss in Art History Part One: Gustav Klimt

The Kiss in Art History Series Part One: The Kiss by Gustav Klimt

With Valentine’s Day arriving tomorrow, love is everywhere I turn at the moment. With that in mind, it feels like the perfect time to indulge in the romance of art. Over the next three weeks, I will be publishing a series of posts on famous artworks starting with The Kiss by Gustav Klimt.

Housed in the museum at the Belvedere Palace in Vienna is the essence of love, passion and beauty contained in one iconic image, The Kiss by Gustav Klimt (1862-1918)

the kiss

During the late nineteenth and first two decades of the twentieth century, Gustav Klimt was a forerunner of the Art Nouveau movement in Vienna. This most famous painting of the Art Nouveau movement, depicts a couple encased in a golden halo and locked in a passionate embrace as they kneel in a field of flowers. The strong and angular male figure bends over the woman and holds her face in his hands as she grips him tightly. The woman’s face is turned towards the viewer, her eyes closed in a passionate moment. Her features are soft and her image projects a sense of delicacy and fragility yet she remains the dominant figure of the two. It is her face that is on display to the viewer rather than the male’s.

The Kiss is a vital part of Klimt’s Golden Period which was heavily influenced from his travels to Italy in 1903 where he discovered Byzantine art and mosaics. A central figure set against a gold background was a typical format for depicting religious icons in the Renaissance and it is undoubtedly the gold that brings the subject matter in The Kiss to life. Containing the two figures in a golden globe is suggestive of love as religion.

The masterpiece, created by Gustav Klimt in 1907, is not only his most famous and instantly recognisable works, but is also one of the most iconic images in art history.