This canvas reflects Klimt’s fascination with eroticism, and while its overall architecture is obviously phallic, it is renowned because of its tender representation of the female model who is tightly embraced within the overall geometry of the picture and whose body is formed from the most detailed, colourful and best expressed abstract passages of Klimt’s career.
The work is composed of conventional oil paint with layers of gold leaf, an aspect that gives it its striking yet evocative appearance. Depicting a couple embracing, their bodies entwined in elaborate robes decorated by both linear constructs of Art Nouveau and earlier organic forms while the background evokes the conflict between two- and three-dimensionality. A visual manifestations of decadence, The Kiss is a delightfully passionate icon of the loss of self that lovers experience in erotic love.
And when the sea swallowed up the shore and the waves heaved under the ship and the blue horizon encircled us, I immediately felt an overwhelming intimacy with the sea. I knew this green, infinite giant, as though it were roving back and forth within my ribs. The whole of the journey I savored that feeling of being nowhere, alone, before and behind me either eternity or nothingness. The surface of the sea when calm is another mirage, ever changing and shifting, like the mask on my mother’s face. Here, too, was a desert laid out in blue-green, calling me, calling me. ~ Tayib Salih