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In the art exhibition of 1908, there was a painting on display in a room reserved for Klimt's pictures. This painting was entitled, Lovers by Klimt himself but is generally known today as The Kiss. Ludwig Hevesi, a critic of the time says, This Klimt hall at the exhibition is the most remarkable assortment seen in Vienna since Markets Dumb Room. A purely painterly painting (The Kiss), not possible before market, a specific phenomena of color... THe Modern Gallerys new lovers standin a sea of flowers, like Homers old Zeus on Mount Ida when hera embrace him once more and a carpet of flowers broke for from the eart. And the lovers wear festive robes, just right for a festival of love.
The whole world is festive again... The special Viennese modulation of feeling, newly arrived, is at long last to be recognized as the people begin to discover theres a place iin thier hearts for Klimt. Not long now and hell be our Klimt. Hevesi compared Klimt to Maker, Vienna had a new prince of painters.
The Kiss did not present society with a scandal, as so many of Klimt's previous pictures had. On the contrary, the picture was recieved with enthusiasm frm the beginning, as is shown by how quickly it sold. It has remained one of Klimt's most famous pieces of work, and has also become a symbol of the Vienna Jugendstil. The Kiss, at a glance represents happiness and love. Like at more closely, with its precursors in mind, it reveals other components. In 1895, twelve years prior to the transitional phase in which he now was, Klimt had appointed the picture Love.
In the earlier picture the lovers are shown in profile, the man holding the woman in his arms and bending his head towards hers. The light falls on the face of the woman, her eyes are closed, her head is tilted back and she looks ready to be kissed. The mans face is in shadow so his expression is unclear. The man is the strong, active, dominating partner; the woman is presented as the devoted, expectant object.
The heads hovering above the pair point not only to the different ages of man (childhood, youth, old age) but also to the threat of death. In the first of the three faculty pictures, Philosophy, the figures, the figures soaring into space include pairing of lovers in an embrace. As in Love, the two figures are shown from the side, but here the man is not larger then the woman. His face is hidden behind her shoulder, only her face is visible.
His muscular back affirms his masculine strength; the womans body is almost compete covered by her long hair and the figures beneath her. There is no actual kiss, but a tender embrace which is part of a whole, symbolizing growth, ripeness and decay. In the Beethoven Frieze the kiss signifies fulfillment after the victory over the hostile powers. As in The Kiss, the lovers stand against a golden ground, which breaks into the meadow of flowers on which a choir of angels is singing. Gehind the lovers is a rose bush.
Klimt had used roses in Love as well. As in Philosophy the lovers are naked, but here the mans strong muscular back entirely concerns the womans body. She has her arms around him, we he bends down towards her. Nothing of thier faces, or thier kiss can bee seen, but I think its more important that it is felt. The man is once again the strong and active aproned. He, in a way, symbolizes a king in shining armor...
whos reward is love... personified in this woman. Her womanhood is more important he her individuality; neither her body or her face can be seen very well. The last precursor of The Kiss seems to be Fulfillment in the Stoclet Frieze, though Klimt probably worked on this at the same time he was working on The Kiss. In the Stoclet Frieze, the lovers stand on a meadow of flowers, the rose-bush flowers far away in the background, but still there.
As in the Beethoven Frieze, the mans body covers the womans, though here her face and one hand are visible. Life is symbolized be a great tree, the threat symbolized by the three birds of prey sitting in its branches. The dominance of the man is expressed mostly by the detailed ornamentation of his robe. The wide-cut neck reveals the same re occuring muscular back. The woman again has her eyes closed, but her head is at the same level as his.
As in Philosophy we see not a kiss but a tender embrace. Bibliography:
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