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
If you love this sumptuous Art Nouveau masterpiece as much as we do, then you're in luck! You can buy a beautiful foiled journal, foiled pocket journal or foiled sketchbook; as well as an iPhone 5 case, all with this beautiful image on.
- Here's an article with 15 things you should know about The Kiss.
- The Austrian mint have honoured Klimt's The Kiss by putting it on a €50 coin. See here.
- Many of Klimt's 'golden phase' pieces have been brought to life incredibly with live models by photographer Inge Prader. See them here.
Check out all of the Top 10 Paintings blog posts!
- Top 10 Paintings | 1 | The Kiss by Gustav Klimt
- Top 10 Paintings | 2 | Composition VII by Wassily Kandinsky
- Top 10 Paintings | 3 | In the Well of the Great Wave of Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai
- Top 10 Paintings | 4 | Starry Night Over the Rhône by Vincent Van Gogh
- Top 10 Paintings | 5 | The Scream by Edvard Munch
- Top 10 Paintings | 6 | Fighting Temeraire by J.M.W. Turner
- Top 10 Paintings | 7 | The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali
- Top 10 Paintings | 8 | Nighthawks by Edward Hopper
- Top 10 Paintings | 9 | Water Lillies by Claude Monet
- Top 10 Paintings | 10 | Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais