His Most Famous Painting (The Kiss) – Gustav Klimt

Austrian ‘Symbolist’ visual artist Gustav Klimt was born on July 14, 1862, in Baumgarten, near Vienna. Trained for an architectural painter at the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts, he primarily produced stunning murals, paintings, and sketches, with the female body being his favorite subject in most of his works. “The Kiss (Der Kuss)” (1907-08) is one such masterpiece by him, belonging to his professionally high, ‘golden phase,’ reflecting an ultimate blend of ‘Symbolism’ and ‘Art Nouveau.’

“The Kiss” shows a couple all involved in their own world, ignorant of their environment, kissing against a bronze backdrop. The man is wearing a crown of vines and is leaning over the woman, who wears flowers in her hair. To enthuse the viewers’ imagination, Klimt has illustrated only the hands and the head of the couple. The artist has draped them neck down in a sheet like swirl in the shades of gold, adorned with several colored rectangular motifs & tangent circles, accentuated by a multicolored flowerbed beneath them. All this well gives the feel of the voluptuous erotica. Therefore, Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss” effortlessly brings out the eroticism & sensitivity, captivity, and the deliverance of the kissing couple, all at the same time. It is rumored that Klimt and his beloved Emilie Floge, modeled for this 180cm x 180 cm magnificent piece of art.

Gustav’s work was characterized by forthright eroticism that uncovered his purely sexual interest towards the female body. He once 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…Who ever wants to know something about me… ought to look carefully at my pictures.” In November 2003, oil and gold on canvass, “The Kiss” was chosen to be patterned on the 100 euro gold collector’s coin, ‘The Painting Coin.’ One side of the coin portrays Klimt in his studio and the other side of the coin shows “The Kiss.”

“The Kiss” currently graces the Osterreichische Galerie Belvedere Museum in the Belvedere Palace, Vienna, Austria. Being a leading member of the Vienna Art Nouveau movement, Gustav’s several pieces are displayed at the Vienna Secession gallery. Leaving several painting unfinished, he passed away on February 6, 1918, due to a stroke and pneumonia. He was interred at the Hietzing Cemetery in Vienna.