Known for his ethereal, pattern-rich portraits, Austrian artist Gustav Klimt is now famous for several of his canvases. Many of which are considered artistic masterpieces.
However, one exquisite painting, in particular, The Kiss, seems to stand out above the rest.
Since its completion in 1908, The Kiss has enchanted audiences with its shimmering gold tones, stylised forms, and sentimental iconography. Today, the inspiring piece can be viewed in Vienna's esteemed Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, where it is currently housed. Its illustrious legacy transcends Klimt's Austrian roots.
As a member of the Secessionist Movement and a pioneer of Symbolism and an aesthetic similar to its contemporary, Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movements, Gustav Klimt often took an avant-garde approach to his painting. This distinctive style has been clearly illustrated in his famous piece The Kiss, painted during his luminous "Golden Period".
Artworks produced during the golden period feature pronounced planes and delicate detailing made of gold leaf, motivated by Byzantine mosaics. With this, each piece gives a glimmering appearance that accentuates the ethereal nature of Klimt's subject matter and style. In addition to The Kiss, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907), Judith and the Head of Holofernes (1901), and Water Serpents I (1904) convey this glimmering aesthetic.
The Kiss depicts a couple embracing each other while kneeling in a grassy patch of wildflowers. The man, who is clad in a geometrically-printed robe and with a crown of vines on his head, cradles the woman's face while he leans in for a kiss.
The woman is painted more colourfully, with an organically patterned dress that contrasts her partner's garment. As she wraps her arms around her partner's neck, her eyes are peacefully closed, emphasising the tranquillity and intimacy of the scene.
In various of his artwork, Klimt explores this theme of love. In his piece titled The Tree of Life, there are two figures on display. They have a similar resemblance and intimate embrace to those featured in The Kiss. Both are mosaics from his Stoclet Frieze series.
The focus on passion and intimacy also shines through in his art piece titled Love, an early artwork painted in 1895. Its romantic subject matter conveys Klimt's interest in exploring and capturing the feeling of love. "Whoever wants to know something about me should look attentively at my pictures and there seek to recognise what I am and what I want."