Thursday, October 15, 2009

Love in the Eye of the Beholder

Gustav Klimt, The Kiss, 1907, Oil on canvs.

My first impression of this piece is that it’s a train wreck. It’s ultra mod with the mosaic titled bodies and somewhat haunting with the odd shapes of the bodies as well as the odd, muted choice of colors.

Despite all of my pre-conceived, negative thoughts about this piece, The Kiss, I can’t help but love it. It’s ultra-mod; but that’s what makes its fresh and interesting to the eye. The forms of the man and woman and discoloration of their flesh is peculiar; but that’s why I’m entranced by it. Strangely, all of its negative points are also its strong points.

The squared mosaics on the man’s body and the swirls on the woman’s body almost acts as a key to the painting as if the female and male are coded. The languid position of the woman is somehow romantic and endearing while the male is, although brash with his hands and face pushed against the woman’s, somehow endearing too.

The image of the two essentially represents a passionate love. The woman’s eyes are shut, her feet are popped up and she’s sitting in a field of flowers which is the ideal setting for any self-proclaimed princess. Realistic aspects like these make such a daunting painting relatable.

This chaotic, overly-dramatic, sometimes even called pornographic painting played a big role in the Vienna Succession which was a movement against the traditional notions of art. Although this bold painting was unrecognized and misunderstood at the time, now it’s similar to the work you’d find in a chic art gallery in New York.

Ahead of its time, this is essentially a mythical, idealized image of love. Perfect in its own right, this kiss of evident passion is simply Klimt’s idea of romanticism. While ours may include a couple glasses of wine, a starlit sky and an adoring embrace, we all have our own image of love.

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