The Kiss achieves a balance between emotion and ornamentation. The lovers are encased in an embrace of golden fabric. The man is decorated in the cold colours and geometrical angular patterns that symbolize masculinity; the kneeling female is represented in warm colours by swirls and circles, the symbols of femininity. Together they create a harmonious whole.
A New Aesthetic
When Klimt and his colleagues formed the Vienna Secession in 1897 they were announcing a formal separation from the traditional, academic art in favour of highly decorative styles. This aesthetic conformed to the European-wide Art Nouveau movement, which sought unity in the applied arts.
The development of Secessionism reflected a profound historical and ideological revolution that characterized the fin-de-siècle. In Vienna Sigmund Freud’s (1856–1939) analytical methods of exploring the subconscious were topical and Klimt’s intensely experimental, controversial work explored the subconscious and emotional impulses and desires. Klimt’s extraordinary creative energy, expressive use of line and dominant use of ornament captured the avant-garde spirit that helped develop the abstract aesthetic that followed.
Medium: Oil and gold on canvas
Dimensions: 180 x 180 cm (71 x 71 in)
Location: Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna
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