Klimt's Kiss

Posted by Luz Sanchez Aguilar on

This work by the Austrian painter is one of the ones that has inspired me the most and is perhaps the most recognized.

Klimt painted "The Kiss" in oil between 1907-08 and it is the main work of his "Golden Period" (characterized by the use of gold leaf and ornate backgrounds) and is also a symbol of the Viennese Secession. The background of the painting is inspired by the Byzantine mosaics of Ravenna, for which Gustav Klimt had a predilection.

It was exhibited for the first time under the name "The Lovers" at the Art Exhibition of 1908 along with his also famous work "The Three Ages of Woman". It received good reviews and at the end of the exhibition it was purchased by Dr. Marchet (Minister of Education) for the Austrian Gallery.

There are many theories about the symbolism and meaning of The Kiss. Some experts point out that it is a reflection of Klimt's own relationship with his friend Emilie Flöge (sister of Helena, wife of Ernst, Klimt's brother). In the sketches prior to The Kiss, the lovers were more cohesive, but in the final work it seems to place them on the edge of a precipice. She looks at the viewer with a serene face, turning away, while he kisses her "seeking" her love and approval.
However, this interpretation seems unlikely to me since Klimt did not like to appear in his works and this is what he himself pointed out:

"There is no self-portrait of mine. I am not interested in my own personality as the object of a painting, but rather I am interested in other people, especially women, other appearances... I am convinced that as a person I am not particularly interesting."

According to Schorske, the black rectangular shapes of the man's suit are symbolic of phallic figures. On the other hand, the oval motifs on the woman's dress can symbolize the female sex.
Another possible theory is that it deals with the failure of women of the time in their emancipation. The woman in the painting seems to reject the man, but even so, he holds her in his hands, forcing her to receive the kiss. Klimt was surrounded by women. He took care of his mother, sister-in-law and niece after the death of his father and brother and they used to "camp" naked models around his studio waiting for Klimt to be inspired and want to sketch them. They had a lot of confidence and freedom in the studio (proof of this are many of Klimt's erotic sketches). Furthermore, it is said that he had relationships with many of them. Perhaps for this reason the situation of women touched him more closely, although this did not exclude him from the prevailing machismo. At his death, Klimt had more than fourteen paternity claims and only three were legally confirmed. One of them, named after his father, became a film director.
The Kiss has also been related to the myth of Apollo and Daphne told by Ovid in "The Metamorphoses". Daphne turns into a laurel tree to escape from Apollo.

You can admire this painting in person in Vienna, at the Belvedere Gallery. In 2018 I was able to visit him and I assure you that this painting, as well as his other works, are true wonders.
I show you my humble interpretation of The Kiss in kokeshis style, in this painting painted with acrylics. Later I made a digital version and another with two women.
These are some of the pieces I have made inspired by Klimt.
You can see my entire collection of jewelry dedicated to Klimt by clicking HERE .
And my illustrations are also available on t-shirts and much more in my latostadora store and in my other stores of illustrated items on demand (these sales are independent of www.pendientera.com).

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