10 Famous Paintings You Should Know: 6 The Kiss, Gustav Klimt

The Kiss

Gustav Klimt

Background of The Kiss

Allow me to introduce you to The Kiss, such a beautiful and intimate painting, done by none other than Gustav Klimt. It is about 1.8 metres squared. Now this painting, believe it or not, was seen as sacrilege, scandalous, pornographic, sexual and way too intimate be displayed in the public.

So, different eras in history value different things and if you think about height of Venice, the Rococo era, the ankle of a woman was the most enticing and you were seen as being quite loose if you exposed your ankle – cleavages were fine they were all over to be seen – but not your ankle and it’s interesting to think that this intimate kiss was seen as way to intimate for public display. Despite the public outcry that The Kiss was inappropriate, the Belvedere Museum of Vienna bought the painting before Klimt had even finished it.

When was The Kiss created?

The Kiss was created after Gustav Klimt experienced great failure in his series known as the Vienna Ceiling Paintings. Klimt’s failure was due to his use of nude figures in the series which were seen as inappropriate and even pornographic.

Klimt had to call on a wealthy patron to help him pay back a lot of money to Vienna’s Ministry of Education. The Kiss is the final painting of Klimt’s Gold Period, it is called his Gold Period because he incorporated gold leaf into his works.

This practice is reminiscent of religious art from the Middle Ages as well as by the Byzantine Empire – this did not bode well for him considering many found The Kiss to be sacrilegious or a mockery of these religious pieces.

What was Gustav Klimt like?

Gustav Klimt was a peculiar artist, he loved wearing a dress or a caftan as he called it, which was a long garment.

He often took photos with his cats and his art. He was friends with fashion and the hoity toity of Austria. It was a wealthy time, the economy was doing well this painting shows that with the opulence of 14 carat gold plated onto them.

Who was the woman in The Kiss?

One of his good lovers and friends wore these beautiful dresses that she made herself and designed and it is said to be her in the picture and Gustav kissing her.

What happened during World War II

Toward the conclusion of World War Two, German troops that were forced into retreating destroyed a number of Klimt’s artworks but The Kiss survived and remains on exhibit at the Belvedere.

The Kiss is famous because it really summarises the Zeitgeist of the time, the absolute opulence that came before the two World Wars and how well it all went until the whole thing kind of blew up.

Look at the other 10 Famous artworks in this series, The Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, Starry Night, Scream, Guernica and out next one on The Girls with the Pearl Earring.

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