Painted in 1907, Gustav Klimt's "The Kiss" is an iconic work that has fascinated art enthusiasts and critics alike for over a century. Beyond its mesmerising beauty, "The Kiss" has an intriguing history, from being initially perceived as erotically scandalous, to its huge size, symbolism, and other intriguing aspects.

The Scandal of Sensuality

When "The Kiss" was first unveiled in 1908, it sparked immediate controversy. Many critics and conservative members of Viennese society perceived it as shockingly erotic and even pornographic - even though the couple are fully clothed. The depiction of a man and a woman together was extremely rare for art at the time, and the fact they were in an intimate embrace, sensually intertwined, and the prominence of the use of gold all contributed to the scandal. 

A Monumental Size

One striking aspect of "The Kiss" is its size. Measuring a whopping 1.8 by 1.8 meters (5.9 by 5.9 feet), the painting is not just a work of art but a monumental statement. Its large size allows viewers to immerse themselves fully in the intricate details of the composition, from the elaborate gold leaf patterns to the mesmerising faces of the lovers. This scale underscores the importance and grandeur of the love it portrays.

Symbolism in Every Stroke

Klimt's "The Kiss" is laden with symbolism, a characteristic that sets it apart as a masterpiece of the Symbolist movement. The golden patterns surrounding the couple represent the spiritual realm, creating a sense of transcendence and otherworldliness. The use of gold leaf, inspired by Byzantine mosaics, hints at a divine, sacred quality in the love shared between the two figures. Even the swirling, geometric patterns on the man's robe evoke the idea of inner emotions and complexities.

Female Empowerment in Art

Klimt's portrayal of the female figure in "The Kiss" is revolutionary for its time. Rather than presenting women as passive objects of desire, Klimt's women are assertive and self-assured. In this painting, the female figure faces the viewer, challenging traditional gender norms.

There is a belief that Klimt and his partner Emilie Flöge might have served as models for the artwork, yet no concrete evidence or documentation supports this hypothesis. Alternatively, some propose that the female figure could have been inspired by the model referred to as 'Red Hilda,' given her striking similarity to the model seen in Klimt's other works such as "Woman with Feather Boa," "Goldfish," and "Danaë."

Legacy and Popularity

Over a century later, "The Kiss" remains one of the most beloved and recognisable artworks in the world. The painting has been referenced in films, fashion, and advertising campaigns, solidifying its place in popular culture. The enduring themes of love, passion, and spiritual connection continue to resonate with audiences worldwide.

We love this painting so much that our Paintvine artists have created a simplified version, which is fun and rewarding to paint, and super popular at Paintvine hen's partiesFind a Paintvine event near you so you can channel your inner Klimt!

Gustav Klimt's "The Kiss" currently resides in the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere museum, situated within the magnificent Belvedere complex in Vienna. The extraordinary oil painting, that contains generous amounts of gold leaf, silver and platinum, is a testament to Klimt's genius and a treasure of the art world that continues to captivate and inspire generations.

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