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Gustav Klimt - the Kiss

by Alexandra Tuschka

We all know it - Gustav Klimt's golden painting "The Kiss". Measuring 180 x 180 cm, it is a classic square - a rare format - in the middle of which a man and a woman are arranged. Interpretations, according to which Klimt himself and his longtime partner Emilie Flögge are to be seen here, are not entirely convincing.

In Art Nouveau , for which this painting is a major work, the canvas life became decorative. Here, too, a kiss is not just a kiss, but is embedded in a pompous, golden environment; an ornamental flower meadow climbs into the picture from the left. Strictly speaking, the original painting title "A Lovers' Couple" was more appropriate, since the man gives the woman only a kiss on the cheek and the lady's state of mind may be debated - is it devotion? Is it submissiveness?

The girl kneels, her head is tilted back and her eyes are closed. With her right arm she embraces the man's shoulders. The man, on the other hand, is standing and has pulled the woman's face towards his with both hands. This distinction between the active and passive poles is also supported by the ornaments - these appear clearer and harder on the left side, softer and more playful on the right. Both sexes are also separated from each other in their forms - in the kiss, which encloses them golden, they find a unity.

Gustav Klimt - The Kiss

Oil on canvas, 1908/09, 180 cm × 180 cm, Austrian Gallery Belvedere in Vienna.


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