7 little-known facts about Gustav Klimt’s modernist painting

The Kiss’

Considered a masterpiece of the early modernist period, Gustav Klimt’s painting ‘The Kiss’, at first glance, seems like another trivial depiction of passion and love. But behind the deceptively simple plot lies a lot of fascinating facts, which i decided to tell my readers about.

  1. Klimt painted ‘The Kiss’ at the end of his career.

In the first decade of the 20th century, Klimt faced a wave of criticism and contempt from the Vienna Secession for allowing the depiction of nudity in his work. Because of his unconventional views on philosophy, medicine and jurisprudence, his paintings were considered ‘perversion and pornography.’

  1. The painting ‘The Kiss’ was bought before the artist finished it.

In 1908, ‘The Kiss’ was exhibited for the first time in the Austrian Art Gallery, despite the fact that Klimt had not actually finished his painting yet. His unfinished work was bought by the Belvedere Gallery.

  1. The Kiss was sold for a record amount for Austria.

To buy the painting, the Belvedere Gallery paid 25,000 krons (roughly $ 240,000 in today’s money). Prior to this sale, the highest price paid for a painting in Austria was 500 krons.

  1. Today the price of the painting has increased many times.

Austria considers ‘The Kiss’ as a national treasure, so the Vienna Museum is not going to sell this painting. However, if that happens, ‘The Kiss’ will break sales records again. Indeed, in 2006 the lesser-known painting by Klimt ‘Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer’ was sold for $135 million.

  1. Klimt’s painting – eclecticism of styles.

The pose of the lovers depicted in ‘The Kiss’ fully reflects the style that was popular during Viennese modernism. But the simple shape and gold edging of their cloaks is more related to the Arts and Crafts movement, and the use of spirals refers to the art of the Bronze Age.

  1. The Kiss can be a self-portrait.

Some art historians have suggested that the lovers, merged in a kiss, are in fact an image of the Austrian artist himself and his beloved, the Austrian fashion designer Emilia Flöge.

  1. The Kiss and Klimt himself can be seen on coins.

In 2003, Austria issued a 100 Euro commemorative coin with the Kiss on one side and the Klimt portrait on the other.

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