Famous Artwork: The Kiss (Klimt)

Editorial credit: spatuletail / Shutterstock.com. A stamp commemorating "The Kiss", circa 2017, Austria.
Editorial credit: spatuletail / Shutterstock.com. A stamp commemorating "The Kiss", circa 2017, Austria.

The Kiss is an iconic painting by the famous Austrian painter Gustav Klimt. The piece of art was created in the early 20th century. The Kiss is a timeless piece that portrays a universal message of love. It shows a couple intimately holding each other on the edge of the flowery meadow. The Kiss is said to be Klimt’s most acclaimed artwork.

Background of Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt was born into a low-income family on July 14th, 1862. It is said that Klimt and his two brothers acquired their artistic talent from their father who was a gold engraver. Klimt attended the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts where he perfected his skill. Starting at an early age, Klimt’s ability to paint magnificent art was noted. He was commissioned to decorate countless public buildings in Vienna. In 1897, Gustav Klimt established the Vienna Secession movement. His aim was to create an awareness of contemporary Viennese artists. Gustav Klimt also pushed for recognition of excellent artwork by Viennese artists as well as artists abroad. As a result of his push, Vienna developed into a world famous center for art and culture. Klimt’s artwork portrays radical ideas, as well as modern and ancient styles. At the start of the 20th century, some of Klimt’s pieces were harshly criticized for displaying nudity. However, it was the controversy around his paintings which led to their popularity.

Creation of the Painting

The Kiss was painted between 1907 and 1908. It was a time of unconventional ideas, economic development, and social upheaval. Artists refer to the period Gustav created The Kiss as his ‘Golden period’ because he worked on other pieces using gold just as he did with The Kiss. He got inspired to use gold in his art pieces from Byzantine mosaics he saw during his travel.

Legacy of the Kiss

The Kiss is regarded as an iconic piece of Art Nouveau. The artwork is done on a square canvas measuring 1.8 meters by 1.8 meters. It displays an intimate and tranquil scene in which a man and a woman embrace each other in a kiss. Gustav’s choice of premium material specifically gold, oil, and silver leaf to paint The Kiss is a show of his mastery in art. The Kiss shows a theme of love which is universal. It is relevant throughout the world and extends beyond time limits. However, the painting encountered criticism in the early days for its use of gold. At the beginning of the 20th century, gold was only used in revered texts and sacred images. Therefore, Gustav’s use of gold to portray love was considered blasphemous at the time. Currently, The Kiss is one of the most valued paintings due to its magnificence.

Current Location of the Kiss

Gustav’s painting of The Kiss is highly guarded in a museum in Vienna. It is displayed as one of the masterpieces of the early 20th century. The public is allowed to view the art piece at the museum.

Financial Worth

The painting by Gustav Klimt was bought by an Austrian gallery way before he finished working on it in 1908. The piece was so valued it went for 25,000 crowns which is equivalent to today’s 240,000 USD. Judging by the prices of his other pieces which were sold recently, The Kiss is worth more than 135 million USD.


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