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The Kiss By Gustav Klimt

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

Between 1907 and 1908, The Austrian Symbolist painter Gustav Klimt created one of his most remarkable art pieces The Kiss. The Kiss represents a painting of Klimt's "Golden Period". The Kiss is an oil-on-canvas painting with added gold leaf, silver, and platinum.


During the 1890s, Klimt met Austrian fashion designer Emilie Louise Flöge, Klimt's painting The Kiss (1907–08), is thought to be an image of them as lovers.


In 1903, Klimt visited Ravenna, Italy, and he saw the Byzantine Mosaics in the Church of San Vitale, Klimt was inspired and started utilizing gold and silver leaf in his own work. Originally, The Kiss was exhibited in 1908 under the title the lovers (Liebespaar) as stated in the catalog of the exhibition.


The painting is now hanging in the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere Museum in the Belvedere, Vienna, and is considered a masterpiece of the Vienna Secession art movement. The kiss is such an example of Klimt's focus on Love, sexuality, and romantic intimacy.


The Kiss painting depicts a couple embracing each other, The kissing couple's bodies entwined in beautiful robes decorated in a style influenced by Art Nouveau style.


The masterpiece depicts a couple in an intimate embrace against a golden background. the two lovers are situated at the edge of a patch of flowery meadow that ends under the woman's exposed feet.


The man wears a robe printed with geometric patterns and a crown of vines and his face is not shown to the audience, instead, his face is bent downward to kiss the woman's cheek, and his hands are cradling the woman's face.


While the woman wears a crown of flowers. She is shown in a flowing dress with floral patterns. Her eyes are closed, with one arm wrapped around the man's neck, the other resting gently on his hand, and her face is upturned to receive the man's kiss.


The painting's simplified composition is remarkable. The Kiss was purchased still unfinished, by the Austrian government when it was put on public exhibition.


The Kiss by Gustav Klimt 1907
The Kiss by Gustav Klimt 1907

The Vienna Secession group against conservative narrow traditional artistic styles.


On 3 April 1897, a group of Austrian painters, graphic artists, sculptors, and architects, including Josef Hoffman, Koloman Moser, Otto Wagner, and Gustav Klimt resigned from the Association of Austrian artists and formed The Vienna Secession (also known as the Union of Austrian Artists).

In the beginning, the Secession had fifty members, and its first elected president was the painter Gustav Klimt.



The Vienna Secession group aimed to expand the boundaries of art against the Association of Austrian artists' support for conservative narrow traditional artistic styles.


The Vienna Secession group aimed to establish contact and an exchange of ideas with artists outside Austria, standing against artistic nationalism, in particular, opposing the domination of the official Vienna Academy of the Arts, the Vienna Künstlerhaus, and official art salons, with its traditional orientation toward Historicism.

The group also aimed to create a "total art", that unified painting, architecture, and the decorative arts.



The Vienna Secession's official magazine was called Ver Sacrum (Sacred Spring, in Latin), in its first issue the literary critic Hermann Bahr declared the goals of the new movement in Vienna, Bahr wrote, "Our art is not a combat of modern artists against those of the past, but the promotion of the arts against the peddlers who pose as artists and who have a commercial interest in not letting art bloom. The choice between commerce and art is the issue at stake in our Secession. It is not a debate over aesthetics, but a confrontation between two different spiritual states."


The Vienna Secession art movement was closely related to Art Nouveau, the first architectural project of the Secession was the creation of an exhibition space that would introduce international artists and art movements to Vienna.



In 1897-98 Olbrich designed the Secession Building to display the art of Klimt and the members of the group, and also by foreign artists. The new exhibition space introduced French avant-garde artists and others to the Viennese public.


In 1905 the group itself split, when some of the most prominent members, including Klimt, Wagner, and Hoffmann, resigned in a dispute over priorities. Carl Moll proposed that the Secession purchase the Gallery Miethke.

This was supported by Klimt, Wagner, Hoffmann, Moser, and others. The issue was put to a vote by the members, and Klimt and his supporters lost by a single vote. On June 14, 1905, Klimt, Hoffmann, Moser, and a group of other artists resigned from the Secession.



The Secession continued to function after the departure of Klimt, Hoffmann, Wagner, and their supporters, giving regular exhibitions in the Secession building, but they lacked the originality of the earlier period. During World War II, as a symbol of degenerate art, the Nazi Party destroyed the Secession building. faithfully, it was reconstructed following World War II.


In 1945, following the War, Hoffmann rejoined the Vienna Secession. Hoffmann was elected President of the Secession from 1948 to 1950. The Secession continues to function today, holding regular exhibitions in the Secession Hall.


The Secession movement was selected as the theme for an Austrian commemorative coin, the 100-euro Secession commemorative coin minted on 10 November 2004. On the obverse side, there is a view of the Secession exhibition hall in Vienna. The reverse side features a small portion of the Beethoven Frieze by Gustav Klimt.




Who Is Gustav Klimt


One of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement was the Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt (14 July 1862 – 6 February 1918), Gustav Klimt was born in Baumgarten, near Vienna in the Austrian Empire. His father, Ernst Klimt the Elder was a gold engraver.


Klimt attended the University of Applied Arts Vienna "Kunstgewerbeschule", a school of applied arts and crafts, where he studied architectural painting from 1876 until 1883. Klimt started as a successful painter of architectural decorations in a conventional manner.



Klimt began his professional career painting interior murals and ceilings in large public buildings. In the early 1890s, Klimt met Austrian fashion designer Emilie Louise Flöge, Klimt's painting, The Kiss (1907–08), is thought to be an image of them as lovers.


Klimt's artwork controversy started around 1894 when Klimt was commissioned to create three paintings to decorate the ceiling of the Great Hall of the University of Vienna.


The three paintings, Philosophy, Medicine, and Jurisprudence were criticized from all quarters political, aesthetic, and religious. As a result of the harsh criticism, the paintings were not displayed. Unfortunately, all three paintings were destroyed when the German forces burned Schloss Immendorf in May 1945.



Klimt subsequently accepted no more public commissions but achieved a new success with his new style "golden phase". Klimt's 'Golden Phase' was marked by positive critical reaction and financial success.


Around the end of the 19th century, Klimt's started the inclusion of Nuda Veritas (naked truth) as a symbolic figure in some of his works. Klimt declared via "Nuda Veritas" a repel action against Vienna's social and political circumstances in his time.


Klimt had transformed traditional allegory into a new symbolism that was more sexual and more liable to criticism. though Klimt had painted a collection of the most aesthetic portraits in history, Klimt hadn't painted a self-portrait.



Klimt stated "I have never painted a self-portrait. I am less interested in myself as a subject for a painting than I am in other people, above all women... There is nothing special about me. I am a painter who paints day after day from morning to night... Whoever wants to know something about me... ought to look carefully at my pictures." Beginning in the late 1890s, in his annual summer holidays on the shores of Attersee, Klimt's painted a collection of landscapes there.



Landscape paintings were Klimt's favorite subject after figurative paintings that seriously interested him. Klimt's painting method was very deliberate and painstaking, his art sessions were remarkably long. On 6 February 1918, Klimt died in Vienna, Gustav Klimt suffered a stroke and pneumonia complications by the worldwide influenza epidemic of that year.


During his life, Gustav Klimt avoided café society and seldom socialized with other artists. Klimt normally wore sandals and a long robe with no undergarments.


Gustav's simple life was somewhat cloistered, devoted to his art, and family. Klimt's paintings have brought some of the highest prices recorded for individual works of art. In November 2003, Klimt's "Landhaus am Attersee" sold for $29,128,000.

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