The Kiss in the Bedroom

on Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Kiss

“The Kiss” is the only piece of art that is displayed in my bedroom. Of course, it is only a reproduction but its presence is in contrast to the otherwise minimalist décor of the room. It is there because I really like it. The original still hangs in the Belvedere Gallery in Vienna, Austria and I have made the pilgrimage to see it there as well as many of the other works of the artist Gustav Klimt which can be found all around the city.


Some basic information for those inclined to be serious students of the arts; Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) was a founder and leading proponent of the Secession art movement and what has come to be known as Art Nouveau. His patrons included the Austrian Emperor Franz Josef I but Klimt was always pushing the limits of expression and some of his work which was originally commissioned for the University were deemed too provocative, even pornographic, and banished from public display. I believe a new movie about his life was released last year with John Malkovich taking the lead role.




Judith I

It is true that nudes are prominent in many of Klimt’s works. However, I do not think they were meant to be erotic. I am no expert but my impression is that in many of his earlier works, his “women” were always portrayed as powerful individuals, almost perfect beings, goddesses.

A good example are the murals that Klimt did for the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. These feminine images representing Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities can be found adorning the staircase of the museum. Judith I is also a portrayal of a powerful woman; a heroine from the apocryphal Book of Judith. Notice that she holds the severed head of Holofernes. Less of a sex object and more of a femme fatale.


Later on, as in the Beethoven Frieze, the nudes, both male and females, seemed to be more like props for the scenery rather than drawing attention to themselves. Again, I must qualify this by saying this is my untrained opinion.

My all time favourite is of course, “The Kiss”. Here there is no nudity but if anything, I find this to be a particularly sensual work. It has been noted that the female in this painting is in a submissive pose which is quite different from how his female subjects are normally portrayed. Intellectuals offer various interpretations to explain this. I like to think that by this late stage of his life, Klimt had discovered real love with a woman (Emilie Flöge) and this was reflected in this work where women are no longer idealized as in his earliest works nor are they in tension with the male sex as I find in the Beethoven Frieze. It is a painting of true, everlasting love based on mutual respect and mutual subservience of the partners.

But forget all the psycho-babble above. I just like it very much.





Part of the Beethoven Frieze

P.S. I would also to thank kat for this original picture in the pointillism style during my blue period.


22 comments:

Molly said...

Enjoyed the informative psycho-babble! Have always, in my uninformed way, liked the graceful, elongated lines and curves of Art Nouveau.....

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

molly,
You see, so simple. You are absolutely right about the graceful elongated lines and curves. I fully agree. why didn't I just say that? :))

Josie said...

What a lovely post. Klimt is one of my favorite painters, and I particularly like Art Nouveau. During the Edwardian era Art Nouveau can be seen in their clothing, china, cutlery, well, just about everything. I have one Art Nouveau piece that belonged to my great-grandmother and it's gorgeous.

I think all of Gustav Klimt's paintings are extraordinarily beautiful. I would bet "The Kiss" looks gorgeous in contrast to your minimalist décor. You have very good taste.

Cheers,
Josie

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I have always liked "The Kiss," too. And I don't think his nudes are intended to be erotic except as eroticism is a part of life. I love his draftsmanship and his use of colors, and the way his work flows.

Oh, to be able to paint like that.

Dave said...

I have never been a great fan of art history but through the influence of an "art history buff" friend of mine, I have learned to appreciate a number of types of art. Thanks for your art history lesson LGS! :-)

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

josie,
glad I passed your muster as I know you know your art. I also like all Klimt's works including his landscapes.

hearts
"erotism as a part of life" - I think Klimt actually used those words in an interview.

dave,
I just like what I like. I'm not big on art history either.

Janice Thomson said...

There is intrinsic beauty portrayed in Klimt's "The Kiss". As an artist myself one can't help but admire the emotions evoked by this painting. Although my own tastes turn more towards classicism, romanticism and impressionism, Klimt's works also hold great appeal especially his landscape paintings. Thanks for this delightful walk again into some of his work!

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

janice,
I've only recently discovered Klimt's landscapes - most of which were of scenery near Attersee, Austria. They are good but perhaps less distinctive.

Becky Wolfe said...

Thanks for this Art History - I know nothing of arts but I DID go to the Belvedere Gallery when I was in Vienna so I've probably seen your true original painting, not knowing much about it. (beautiful gallery)

Proxima said...

I love "The Kiss", what an appropriate picture for the bedroom.

Hope your day is a good one!

-P

squirrel said...

Thanks for the lesson! I had never heard of this painter! Beautiful!

etain_lavena said...

Ahhh this is so kewl....enjoyed it:)

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

becky,
I know next to nothing about art too. But I read an article on klimt years ago and just liked his paintings. i also liked art nouveau long before I even knew there was such a name for the style. Glad you saw it in Vienna. Did you see the Secession Building? Klimt is also partly guilty for that.

proxima,
thanks. wonder what you hang in your bedroom?

squirrel,
glad you liked it. He also does landscapes (usually of lakes and shoreline but also village scenes) and there are no nudes in them. I mention that just to stress he had a range.

etain,
glad you liked it. Best wishes for your upcoming big adventure. When you are in Europe, you might have a chance to see the originals.

spoon said...

ha ha! loved your indiscreet truth post. But also this one, i like Gustav because he liked redheads!

Top cat said...

I'm not familiar with this artist.
Thank you for sharing it.
I like the details and the choice of colors he used.
tc

celestial opus said...

Thanks for the info on The Kiss. It's hanging in my building but I never knew what/who it was. Now I have some background to think of next time I stop to stare at it!

adelym said...

Ah..the taste of good arts comes from being in the Loh Family. We all love varies kind of art. I bet you havn't seen my bathroom yet. You should one day when you are over my place. Mum & Dad use to have much more beautiful paintings. A mix or oriental and western. There are still beautiful art in the house but you got to check each one out to enjoy it.Which I suppose you don't have much time each time you are over. Maybe uncle you can come one day with your camera and take some photos and post them up here. I think some of our friends here will come to enjoy the Malaysian way of art too.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

spoon,
Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. I'm guessing from the colorful feet in your picture that you are a redhead?

tc
Glad you like it. I am attracted to the contract of gold with the flowery patterns of the girl's dress in the Kiss.

celestial opus,
good to see you back. Hope your next viewing of the painting will be more meaningful.

Adelym,
everyone has their own taste in art. I'm not so keen on the traditional styles except Chinese waterclor paintings with strong emphasis on space. What do you have hanging in your bathroom?

adelym said...

The work of art in my bathroom is due to my parents artistic touch or maybe not. You got to see it yourself. Art anyway is subjective.
It depends on your mood and likings

Open Grove Claudia said...

So beautiful. What a delight for the eyes! I love the kiss. It's so warm and lovely.

Thanks for sharing...

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