Awkward First Kiss: The Kiss

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Gustav Klimt, The Kiss, 1907

Awkward First Kiss
By ELIZABETH ELLIS

Klimt’s painting evokes the comfort and pureness of the couple embracing. The Kiss was created during Klimt’s “Golden Period” where he used oil paint with layers of gold leaf when combining the Art Nouveau style with more organic forms. He leaves the couple enfolded in gold and flat patterns while highlighting the realistic form of the figures. Klimt was inspired to focus on gold a trip he made in Italy and the Byzantine style that focused on flat, depth-lacking figures and gold. Klimt combines and contrasts the two styles. He focuses on the flat patterns covering the gold to give detail to the painting, while giving a soft shadow and lightness to the realistic figures. 

His composition is linear, with the couple almost seems to jut up against the flowers and the woman’s feet forming a right angle, while the patterns he uses also following a linear direction. While the composition is very strict, Klimt softens the painting with his detailed flowers and his contrasting, harsh black lines on the man and softer circles on the woman. He also adds shadows to his gold background by adding a shimmery layer to the darker background, softening the sharp effect of the gold and linear composition and giving the painting a simultaneous modern and ethereal effect. 

The flowers surrounding the couple add a natural effect to the painting, even as Klimt uses flatter colors to emphasize the pattern. Klimt’s use of gold and full, colorful patterns adds to the emotion of the painting and the dreamy quality of the couple embracing. The quiet intimacy can be seen is the soft features of the woman’s face, eyes closed in trust and hands clasped around the man’s hand and neck. The man cradles the woman’s face delicately and seems content to just hold her. The emotions Klimt shows transcends the simple act of a kiss and shows the love and trust between the lovers.

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