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The Kiss Painting

The Kiss is an oil-en-canvas art work by the Austrian Symbolist artist Gustav Klimt. It was first painted sometime in the early 1907 and early 1908, during the heyday of what later scholars now call his “phalagic” style. It shows two women lying on each other's backs, their arms encased around one another's, with the woman's right hand holding the man's left hand, or left forearm, in what art historians would consider a fusion of the art of the times and the then popular love motifs of the time. These commonalities led the artists who worked on this piece to consider it a pre-Raphaelite work, since it shows the typical characteristics of Romanticism.

Although the painting has become something of a rarity to collectors' formats, it is one of the best paintings from the romantic era that almost never found its way into a major art museum and rarely displayed in homes. The reason for this may be the size of the painting, which when scaled down to canvas, is much too large to be an acceptable addition to most art museums. Also, since its origins in Vienna, it is thought to be a late work, since its primary subject matter was the death of the kiss. Another is that the painting is a reworking of the same theme, from a previous piece by the same artist.

Gustav Klimt's The Kiss, which is also called Die Presbygone (The Lost Kiss), is one of the most famous and highly rated painters from the romantic period. In fact, the painting may very well be the most copied painting from the art scene in history. Many art critics compare the painting to Rembrandt's The Night Cafe, but they differ in their opinions as to which artist did the actual work. Some say the painting belongs to the genre known as Viennese Neue Expressionism, while others note the similarity to the Pre-Raphaelites style. It is generally acknowledged that Klimt is the true master of this form and his work is the standard for modern paintings of the time.

The painting opens with a close-up of the girl's mouth, then her torso and finally her face, as she leans forward to accept the kiss from the older man. The background is clouded with hints of yellow, orange and gold. The colors enhance the sense of tenderness and femininity which originally finds itself in the female figure. The couple in the background seems to be moving toward each other, yet there is a sense of uncertainty in their actions and expressions. The significance of this uncertainty can be seen in the couple's costumes, the girl wearing a long gown which forms the base of the candle's outline, the boy in a suit which forms the outline of the candle, and finally the girl holding up a bouquet of flowers which has now become the candle's outline.

In terms of the style, the kissing couple is presented as being in the arms of one another, although the suggestion of physical intimacy between them is implied rather than actually depicted. However, on a closer examination, we see that the two figures are actually one and the same personage, which is obviously the traditional figure of the Austrian painter, Bach. This being the case, the similarities between the Viennese version of the Kiss and the Pre-Raphaelites version can be mainly attributed to the influence of Bach.

When reviewing the period between the Golden period and the Vienna Period, it becomes clear that the influence Bach had on the kiss painting is indeed strong. The use of the elongated brush strokes typical of the artists of the time is present, although in a different decorative style. Furthermore, there is also the recurrent theme of floral themes, particularly roses, which feature heavily throughout the paintings from this era. It should be mentioned that Bach painted a large number of portraits which feature the use of the taffeta style; these portraits, such as the ones he painted of the two lovers in the Sistine Chapel, are perhaps his most famous examples of this genre.

The term 'ephemeralism' is often associated with artists of the pre-modern era who create paintings which are meant to be enjoyed only for the moment they were created. This is in contrast to works by the artists of the Viennese period, who saw their work take on a much more definitive and meaningful dimension. In terms of eroticism, both paintings feature a subject whose eyes are locked together, with their focus ultimately resting on the sensual act. The kiss painting, in particular, will appeal to those who find themselves dissatisfied with the current romantic trends which are currently taking place.

Within the context of the paintings and other works from the golden period, it should be noted that there is a distinct tendency towards a reduction of the human figure to the bare essentials of the body, in order to bring about an aesthetic balance. As well as this, a tendency towards a reduction in the scale of the canvas is seen, with canvases becoming more diminutive in size, until they almost seem non-existence. At this point, a sense of magical realism is created, in the way the painting seems to have lifted itself up off the canvas and into the air. This may be taken to mean that the painting is mythical in its own right. In terms of the subject, the kiss painting seems to follow the pre-Raphaelite pattern in which the nude male forms the central subject of the work, with erotic overtones being added through the involvement of nymphs, fish and other such decorative elements. Other works from the golden period would see the depiction of the same subject as an embellished nymph or winged woman.

Gustav Klimt – The Kiss Fullview – Oil, Malerei von Gustav Klimt – The Kiss Painting | The Kiss Painting

Der Kuss (Klimt) – Wikipedia – The Kiss Painting | The Kiss Painting