|The Kiss, Gustav Klimt, 1907-8, Österreichische Galerie, Vienna|
Wednesday, 20 July 2016
Painting of the Month (63), July 2016: Gustav Klimt
He painted The Kiss in 1907-08 and it was a huge success being sold before it was even finished for a fee much higher than the previous record for an Austrian painting. It is now, beyond any doubt, one of the most iconic and well-known pictures in the world. It’s a huge square painting measuring 1.8 metres, or 6 feet, along each side, although it is often truncated to a rectangle for marketing purposes.
Gustav Klimt was an Austrian Symbolist painter born in 1862 in Vienna. Symbolism is the expression of an idea over a realistic description or depiction of the natural world.
Like many great works of art it reflects a collision of artistic styles. The prevailing style of the day was Art Nouveau, characterised by intricate linear designs and flowing curves based on natural forms but the simple form and bold patterns of their cloaks also shows influence of the organic forms of the earlier Arts & Crafts movement.
A few years before creating this beautiful work Klimt had seen the Byzantine mosaics in the San Vitale Church in Ravenna. He was inspired by the use of gold-leaf and the flatness of the paintings and lack of perspective which had the effect of making the gold seem to shimmer and stand-out. He achieved a similar effect by combining gold-leaf and oil paint. Other clear influences were the fin-de-siecle spirit of sensuality and decadence. Also, I think it’s clear that Japanese painting had an influence.