the kiss (klimt)
Klimt’s use of gold was inspired by a trip he had made to Italy in 1903. When he visited Ravenna he saw the Byzantine mosaics in the Church of San Vitale. For Klimt, the flatness of the mosaics and their lack of perspective and depth only enhanced their golden brilliance, and he started to make unprecedented use of gold and silver leaf in his own work. 
The Kiss, however, was enthusiastically received, and was purchased, still unfinished, by the Austrian government when it was put on public exhibition. 
The Tree of Life, Stoclet Frieze, 1909
Judith and the Head of Holofernes, 1901
The Kiss (in German, Liebespaar, Lovers) is an oil painting with added silver and gold leaf by the Austrian Symbolist painter Gustav Klimt.
The Austrian painter Gustave Klimt was born in 1862 in Baumgarten, not far from Vienna, and died in there in 1918.
His father was a gold and silver engraver. Like several of his seven siblings, Klimt followed in his father’s footsteps.
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.”
1. The post-Victorian society of the early 1900s perceived “The Kiss” as pornographic, even though both figures are fully robed.
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.
Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss is the archetype of tenderness and passion. This shimmering, colourful, love scene of two faces and bodies embracing each other, is conserved at the Belvedere Museum in Vienna. Although clearly extravagant, the gold leaf covered canvas does not compromise the profound significance behind the work. Artsper invites you to dive into this erotic, ambiguous and mythical work, and discover its fascinating meaning.