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Inspiration: “The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt: did you know

Inspiration: “The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt: did you know

“The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt, probably one the most popular works in art history and the highlight of the Upper Belvedere, represents a couple swathed in richly embellished robes embracing in a meadow of flowers on the brink of a precipice. “The Kiss” is the culmination of the artist’s phase known as the “Golden Epoch” when Klimt created a puzzling, ornamental technique of combining gold leaf with oils and bronze paint and revolving around the mystery of existence and love.

Here are some of the interesting facts about “The Kiss” you might want to learn right now. 

1. “The Kiss” was first exhibited in 1908 at the Kunstschau art exhibition on the site of today’s Konzerthaus. The State bought it from there for the sum of 25,000 Kronen and thus secured for the state one of the icons of European modern art. 

2. Klimt gained initial inspiration for “The Kiss” in 1903 on a journey to Ravenna to see the Byzantine mosaics in the Church of San Vitale. In addition, the painting contains a myriad of motifs from various cultural epochs, above all from Ancient Egyptian mythology. 

3. The post-Victorian society of the early 1900s perceived “The Kiss” as pornographic, even though both figures are fully robed. 

4. Toward the conclusion of World War II, the University of Vienna Ceiling Paintings were among a number of Klimt's artworks destroyed by retreating German troops. “The Kiss”, however, remains on exhibit at the Belvedere.

5. When re-assessing “The Kiss” for Klimt's 150th birthday, journalist Adrian Brijbassi wrote, "The Kiss by Gustav Klimt surpasses expectations," unlike that tiny and underwhelming Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. After throwing shade on the more famous painting, Brijbassi explained, “[The Kiss] does what a great piece of art is supposed to do: Hold your gaze, make you admire its aesthetic qualities while trying to discern what's beyond its superficial aspects”.

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