1907-08 (100 Kb); 180 x 180 cm (71 x 71 in);
Österreichisches Galerie Wien, Vienna
Man leaning over and kissing kneeling woman. All shrouded in symbolically patterned gold. A bed of flowers below them.
Just as Munch can be associated with both Symbolism and Expressionism, so the art of the Austrian painter, Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), is a curious and elegant synthesis of Symbolism and Art Nouveau. The Austrians responded enthusiastically to the decorative artifice of Art Nouveau, and Klimt is almost artifice incarnate. He painted large ornamental friezes of allegorical scenes, and produced fashionable portraits, uniting the stylized shapes and unnatural colors of Symbolism with his own essentially harmonious concept of beauty.
The Kiss is a fascinating icon of the loss of self that lovers experience. Only the faces and hands of this couple are visible; all the rest is great swirl of gold, studded with colored rectangles as if to express visually the emotional and physical explosion of erotic love.