The Kiss was a painting done by the Austrian Symbolist painter Gustav Klimt between 1907 and 1908. The painting was created during the highpoint of his Golden Period, when he painted a couple of works in a similar gilded style. The painting is on a perfect square canvas, depicting a couple embracing, their bodies entwined in elaborate robes decorated in a style influenced by the contemporary Art Nouveau style. Take a look below for 25 more fun and interesting facts about The Kiss painting.
1. The work is made with oil paint that’s been applied with layers of gold leaf, which is why gives it its modern, yet evocative appearance.
2. The painting is currently at the Osterreichische Galerie Belvedere museum in the Belvedere Palace, Vienna. It’s widely considered to be a masterpiece of the early modern period.
3. The Kiss was painted after Klimt’s three part Vienna Ceiling series which created a scandal and was criticized as pornography and perverted excess.
4. In the painting, Klimt shows a couple that’s locked in intimacy, while the rest of the painting dissolves into a shimmering, extravagant flat pattern. The background evokes the conflict between the two and three dimensionality that’s intrinsic to the work of Degas and other modernists.
5. The Kiss and other paintings were visual manifestations of the fin-de-siecle spirit due the decadence they showed by opulent and sensuous images.
6. The use of gold leaf in the painting recalls medieval gold ground painting and illuminated manuscripts. The spiral patterns in the clothes recall Bronze Age art and the decorative tendrils that are sometimes seen in Western art before the classical times.
7. In the painting, the man’s head ends close to the top of the canvas, which is different than traditional Western canons.
8. The two figures in the painting are at the edge of a patch of flowery meadow. The man is wearing a robe with black and white rectangles and a crown of vines, while the woman is in a tight fitting dress with flower motifs.
9. People believe that Klimt and his companion, Emilie Floge, modeled for the work. However, there’s no record or evidence to prove this.
10. Some researchers suggest that the female in the painting was a model known as “Red Hilda”. This is because she has a strong resemblance to the model in his other work, such as Woman With Feather Boa, Goldfish and Danae.
11. Kimit’s use of gold, as seen in The Kiss, was inspired by his trip to italy in 1903. He visited Ravenna and saw the Byzantine mosaics; their flatness was enhanced by their golden brilliance which made him want to use gold and silver leaf in his own work.
12. Some researchers have also argued that the painting is supposed to represent Apollo kissing Daphne, following the metamorphosis of the Ovid narrative.
13. In February, 2013, Syrian artist named Tammam Azzam superimposed an image of the painting onto a bombed building in an unidentified part of Syria, in a work called Freedom Graffiti. It was his call for attention to the plight of war in his country.
14. Before painting The Kiss, Klimt’s career was on the downswing. This was largely because of his work on the University of Vienna Ceiling.
15. In 1907, Klimt was sketching a lot but he was in a creative panic. In a letter he wrote, “Either I am too old, or too nervous, or too stupid – there must be something wrong.”
16. In 1908, the Austrian Gallery displayed The Kiss for the first time, even though Klimt hadn’t even put the finishing touches on it.
17. The Belvedere paid 25,000 crowns, or about $240,000 today, to acquire the piece. Prior to this painting, the highest price paid for a painting in Austria was 500 crowns.
18. Austria considers the painting to be a national treasure. While the Viennese museum isn’t selling the painting, it’s believed that if the painting was to sell, it would break sales records again. This is because Klimt’s less known painting Adele Bloch-Bauer I sold in 2006 for $135 million.
19. The Kiss was different from Klimt’s other major themes. He mostly worked and focused on women, so adding a man, even though his face was obscured, was unusual and different for Klimt.
20. The fact that the figures in the painting wore modest dresses also shows that The Kiss was one of Klimt’s much more conservative paintings.
21. The Kiss is 180 by 180 centimeters in size, which makes it almost a 6 foot square.
22. The painting is often modified for merchandising. Since the original composition is a perfect square, the painting was reproduced many times on posters, postcards, and various other mementos.
23. Klimt’s use of gold in this painting calls back to religious art found in churches. However, using gold leaf here to celebrate earthly pleasures and the sensuality of sexuality was considered profane and blasphemous by the church.
24. In 2003, Austria released a commemorative 100 Euro coin that had an etching of The Kiss on one side, and a portrait of Klimt at work in his studio on the other.
25. Klimt used fresco, mosaic techniques and oil painting in this artwork; this can be seen in the carpet of flowers. The play of swirls, spirals and phallic design was the primary composition of The Kiss.