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The Kiss

From Gustav Klimt to today

The meeting of lips par excellence since 1908, The Kiss is an oil painting, with added silver and gold leaf by the Austrian Symbolist painter Gustav Klimt, and was painted during his “Golden Period”. Of course, apart from its indisputable beauty and importance, if The Kiss is here now, is precisely because of its tributes and re-makes, that are pretty numerous.

Love, intimacy, and sexuality are common themes found in Klimt’s works. The Stoclet Frieze and the Beethoven Frieze are such examples of his focus on romantic intimacy. Both works are precursors to The Kiss and feature the recurring motif of an embracing couple.

It is thought that Klimt and his companion Emilie Flöge modeled for the work, but there is no evidence or record to prove this. Others suggest the female was the model known as “Red Hilda”, she bears strong resemblance to the model in his Woman with feather boa, Goldfish and Danaë.

Klimt painted The Kiss soon after his three-part Vienna Ceiling series, which created a scandal and were criticized as both “pornographic” and evidence of “perverted excess”. The works had recast the artist as an enfant terrible for his anti-authoritarian and anti-popularist views on art. He wrote, “If you can not please everyone with your deeds and your art, please a few”.

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