Gustav Klimt, Der Kuss, 1907
150 years today since the birth of Austrian Symbolist painter Gustav Klimt who lead the Vienna Secession movement. Klimt’s work explores the themes of birth, life and death, and The Kiss is most notably the artist’s most famous work. A perfect square, the canvas depicts a couple embracing, their bodies entwined in elaborate robes decorated in a style influenced by both linear constructs of the contemporary Art Nouveau style and the organic forms of the earlier Arts and Crafts movement.
The Kiss reflects his fascination with eroticism, and while its overall architecture is obviously phallic, it is renowned because of its tender representation of the female model who is tightly embraced within the overall geometry of the picture and whose body is formed from the most detailed, colourful and best expressed abstract passages of Klimt’s career. In its tenderness, the painting deviates from his typical portrayal of woman as distant femme fatales; here the female is the protagonist, rather than merely the object of desire.