the kiss gustav klimt
In 2012, 20th Century Fox released the action/romance movie This Means War starring Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy, and Chris Pine. The film features a scene where Pine and Witherspoon’s characters tour a private Klimt collection, with The Kiss being the focal piece. 
The patterns in the painting suggests the style of Art Nouveau and the organic forms of the Arts and Crafts movement. At the same time, the background evokes the conflict between two- and three-dimensionality intrinsic to the work of Degas and other modernists. Paintings such as The Kiss are visual manifestations of fin-de-siecle spirit because they capture a decadence conveyed by opulent and sensuous images. The use of gold leaf recalls medieval “gold-ground” paintings, illuminated manuscripts, earlier mosaics, and the spiral patterns in the clothes recall Bronze Age art and the decorative tendrils seen in Western art since before classical times. The man’s head ends very close to the top of the canvas, a departure from traditional Western canons that reflects the influence of Japanese prints, as does the painting’s simplified composition.
The work presents an embracing couple, concealed behind a large golden cloak. This heavy embellishment protects and encircles the couple, reiterating the immortality of their love. Two distinctive parts constitute the image: the first part depicting the man shows a repeating geometric black and white motif, symbolising his strength, virility and masculinity. Meanwhile, the second part portrays that of the woman, where Klimt uses flowers and circles to reflect images of femininity and maternity.
Like many of Klimt’s works that depict embraces, The Kiss conceals the man’s face and focuses instead on that of the woman. In this work, the young woman’s facial expression and closed eyes simultaneously evoke feelings of abandonment, ecstasy and delight. Although the position of the man who embraces her may appear intrusive, the way his hands gently hold her face evoke feelings of tenderness and warmth. The lovers appear in an unbreakable embrace, yet despite the fact they are intertwined on a flowerbed they are also on the edge of an abyss, threatening to disappear forever.
The Tree of Life, Stoclet Frieze (detail)
Judith and the Head of Holofernes, 1901
It was in Venice, Italy, at the Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna located in Ca’ Pesaro, the most important baroque Venetian palace, that Robert Langdon, the main character in Dan Brown’s Inferno, saw for the first time Gustave Klimt’s masterpiece The Kiss while it was on loan from Vienna.
The Kiss, Klimt’s most famous painting, was realised between 1907-08, the highpoint of Klimt “Golden Period,” when he painted a number of works in a similar gilded style.
3. The sale price of 25,000 crowns – roughly $240,000 in contemporary U.S. currency – was five times higher than that of than any painting previously sold in Vienna. But that price turned out to be a bargain. Kimt’s less renowned (though still quite famous) Adele Bloch-Bauer I sold for $135 million in 2006. The New York Times noted at that time this was “the highest sum ever paid for a painting.”
7. The artist created “The Kiss,” his most iconic painting, in the aftermath of dismal failure. During the first decade of the 20th century, Klimt completed a series known as the Vienna Ceiling Paintings at the University of Vienna’s great hall. Due in large part to the nude figures in this series, the established art community derided them as pornographic. Klimt ultimately called upon the help of a wealthy patron to repay his commission of 30,000 crowns to Vienna’s Ministry of Education and took his paintings elsewhere.