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15 little-known facts about Gustav Klimt's modernist masterpiece "The Kiss"
15 little-known facts about Gustav Klimt's modernist masterpiece "The Kiss"
Painting by Gustav Klimt "The Kiss"

Considered a masterpiece of the early modernist period, Gustav Klimt's painting The Kiss, at first glance, seems like another trivial depiction of passion and love. But behind the deceptively simple plot lies a lot of fascinating facts, which we decided to tell our readers about.

1. Klimt wrote "The Kiss" at the end of his career

In the first decade of the 20th century, Klimt faced a wave of criticism and contempt from the Vienna Secession for allowing the depiction of nudity in his work. Because of his unconventional views on philosophy, medicine and jurisprudence, his paintings were considered "perversion and pornography."

2. "The Kiss" is the result of Klimt's creative crisis

Fragment of the painting "The Kiss" by Klimt

In 1907, after being criticized by the Vienna Secession, Klimt continued to paint actively, but he began to doubt his talent. Once he confessed in a letter: "Or I have become too old or too nervous or too stupid, but something is clearly going wrong." But it was during this period that he painted a picture that brought him immense popularity.

3. The painting "The Kiss" was bought even before the artist finished it

In 1908, The Kiss was exhibited for the first time in the Austrian Art Gallery, despite the fact that Klimt had not actually finished his painting yet. His unfinished work was bought by the Belvedere Gallery.

4. "The Kiss" was sold for a record amount for Austria

The price of the painting at $ 240 thousand became a record price for Austria

How do you get a piece of art that isn't even finished yet? You need to make an offer that you can't refuse. To acquire the painting, the Belvedere Gallery paid 25,000 crowns (roughly $ 240,000 in today's money). Prior to this sale, the highest price paid for a painting in Austria was 500 CZK.

5. Today the price of the painting has increased many times

Austria considers "The Kiss" a national treasure, so the Vienna Museum is not going to sell this painting. However, if that happens, The Kiss will break sales records again. Indeed, in 2006 the lesser-known painting by Klimt "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer" was sold for $ 135 million.

6. Klimt's painting - eclecticism of styles

The pose of the lovers depicted in The Kiss fully reflects the style that was popular during Viennese modernism. But the simple shape and gold edging of their cloaks is more related to the Arts and Crafts movement, and the use of spirals refers to the art of the Bronze Age.

7. "The Kiss" is a vivid example of Klimt's "golden period"

Gustav Klimt with a kitten

Inspired by the Byzantine mosaics he saw on his travels, Klimt mixed gold leaf with oil paints. This became his signature style.

8. "The Kiss" contrasts with the main theme of Klimt's paintings

The artist's works were mainly focused on women, so the inclusion of a man's canvas in the plot is very unusual for Klimt. The lovers' modest attire is also more conservative than most of his paintings.

9. "The kiss" can be a self-portrait

Some art historians have suggested that the lovers, merged in a kiss, are in fact an image of the Austrian artist himself and his beloved, the Austrian fashion designer Emilia Flöge.

10. The painting depicts Klimt's muse

There is another opinion - the model for the painting "The Kiss" was Adele Bloch-Bauer, who posed for another picture - "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer".The third theory says that red hair indicates that the girl is "Red Hilda" - the model with whom Klimt wrote "Danae", "Lady with a hat and a feather boa" and "Goldfish".

11. The size of the painting is large enough

Painting in the museum

The dimensions of the "Kiss" are 180 x 180 centimeters.

12. The shape of the painting is often misrepresented in reproductions

Although Klimt's original painting is a square, the painting's popularity has led to countless reproductions of it on posters, postcards, and mementos. But on these souvenirs, the right and left parts of the picture are usually cropped to make its shape more standard, rectangular.

13. "Kiss" can be blasphemous

Klimt's use of gold echoes the religious art often seen in churches. Using gold leaf to represent earthly pleasures and sensuality can be blasphemous, according to some laymen.

14. "Kiss" and Klimt himself can be seen on coins

The "kiss" and Klimt himself can be seen on the coins

In 2003, Austria issued a 100 Euro commemorative coin with the Kiss on one side and the portrait of Klimt on the other.

15. Critics have always been supportive of The Kiss

Maybe it happened because of the scale of the picture. Maybe because of the gold. Or maybe because of the genius of the artist. But the picture has always received only positive reviews from critics.

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