The Kiss, Gustav Klimt
The Kiss, Gustav Klimt
Product SKU: SKU.4476
Maximum print: 120 cm.
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The Kiss

In the Belvedere in Vienna, there is Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss” from 1908. Probably the most famous Klimt, and actually it is almost a perfect square although in many posters it’s been cut down and made into a rectangle. It is a very large painting and there is so much gold that is hard not to think of a religious artwork. In some way Klimt was trying to create a modern icon, something that suggested a sense of transcendence. There is no question that the gold here makes you think of the Byzantine tradition, maybe some of the tile work at Ravenna. There is a way that the patterning, especially around the faces, becomes a kind of halo, as well. Klimt had built up the gold with gold circles rise off the surface of the canvas and catch the light, much the way that the gold was tooled in medieval paintings. There is this sense of the male figure of patterns that direct of linear in contrast to the curvilinear to the circles and the ovals that we seen in the female form. The point we made out about the sense of the spiritual is so powerful in this painting, so we forget the darker gold ground seems so much as if the figures are somehow being dissipated into the cosmos that there are so lost in the intensity the eternity of that kiss. All is removed from the everyday world: we have to remember that this is a time of incredible modernization in Vienna. The city of Vienna has been transformed in the previous 30 years into a modern city. Here Klimt is abstracting a universal experience from the trauma, the difficulties, the anxieties of everyday life. It is also important to see this in relationship to Klimt’s Beethoven Frieze where the figures confront evil forces, and in the end, there is an embrace, the kiss which emerge from evil into fulfillment and perfection. The bodies are present here are cloaked in decorative forms, a reminder of how much Klimt -although exploring this kind of sensuality, was also disguising it, or covering with a kind of decorative pattering. On the contrary on the faces the entire painting changes. The female figure is completely full frontal but horizontal. So, there is this beautiful sense of here passivity receiving that kiss but also a kind of deep interior feeling with her eyes closed. Her fingers just delicately touching his, as he holds her head and his neck reaches out and round, and the viewer gets a sense of his physical power through the strength of that neck, but also the intensity of his desire. And of course they are both crowned. As on this head there is a wreath of leaves, on hers almost as if they were the stars of the heavens.

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