*** the Kiss by Klimt ***

There are some works that have entered the collective imagination and that more than others are able to identify certain themes, dear to all. Like The Kiss by Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), the great painter of the Viennese Secession, a painting that has become a very popular and beloved symbol of romantic love.

Made in 1908, The Kiss was painted five years after the artist's trip to Italy. The visit to Ravenna, which took place in 1903, together with the suggestion of the Byzantine mosaics, with their shining gold backgrounds, is in fact at the origin of Klimt's so-called "Golden Period", which reaches its maximum expression with this painting.

The canvas features the figures of a man and a woman (unidentified), embraced with great tenderness on a flowery hump and silhouetted in the unreal atmosphere of an ancient gold background. Their bodies seem fused by the ample yellow and richly decorated robes (similar to those that the artist used to wear), whose shapes make what they cover indefinite. The woman, kneeling, is shown in profile, with her face turned to the observer.

She has her head gently resting on his shoulder and supported by the hand of her beloved. Her eyes are closed and her expression looks decidedly ecstatic. The man, standing on a lower level than the woman, must have his legs partially immersed in the ground. He welcomes his partner in a strong protective hug. His head is bent to kiss the cheek of the woman who puts her arm around his neck.

The vagueness of the lovers' bodies, confused by the similarity of the fabrics that cover them, lyrically highlights the amorous nature of their relationship; also the gold of the background helps to express the fixity and incorruptibility of space and time, making the love that unites them eternal, suspended and immutable.

The space is entirely resolved on the two dimensions, according to yet another reference to Byzantine mosaics; the composition of the work is highly calibrated, all played on the design of the masses and the suggestion of the chromatic games. The line winds harmoniously, in an uninterrupted game of curves that creates and separates the shapes, while limiting the great chromatic masses.

The shining surface of the work, teeming with lights and colors, is enlivened by a minute decoration with flowers and geometric motifs that patter the space: rectangles for the man's dress, circles, ovals, spirals and spirals for the dress of the woman. The different geometry of the two decorations symbolically expresses the difference between the two sexes. These signs, these spots do not respond to a simple decorative function but seem to have their own important expressive function and herald the formal tools adopted by the subsequent Abstractionism.

However, Klimt's work does not abandon the figurative context: abstract painting stops, discreetly, where the representation of the human figure intervenes. The man and the woman, under the phantasmagoria of the garments, have neither volume nor body; but where the fabrics let us glimpse the faces, the hands, the arms, part of the back, they are faithfully represented. This strengthens the concreteness of their love, which is not abstract and ideal but very human: fragile, because it needs care and protection; strong because it is capable of lasting over time and of withstanding the hardships of life.

(G.Nifosi - Art unveiled)

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