16 x 12", acrylic on gessoed mounted aluminium panel
painting #292, 2022
Born in 1862, Gustav Klimt was an Austrian Symbolist painter and the founding father and a leading member of the Vienna Secession movement, a group of artist who consciously rejected the academic style of the late nineteenth century. Even though he had formally studied art at the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts. He received training as an architectural painter and was classified as an academic painter who could paint hyperrealist portraits. He became celebrated for his rich, complex, gold-dazzling friezes and portraits of powerful, chic woman from Vienna's turn of the century society. His artistic vocabulary incorporated esoteric design and eroticism, which was not always well received, including some commissions which were never revealed. His work was greatly influenced by the Byzantine movement and he also was associated with Art Nouveau when the movement was at it's peak.
''The Kiss'' (1907-08) is a celebration of his deeply held belief in the transforming power of idealized love. Klimt himself is the male figure embracing his life companion Emilie Flöge. Gilles Néret, the author of Klimt published in 2007 by Taschen writes,''Klimt's otherwise dominating woman becomes submissive. She yields to the man, abandons herself to him, and sexuality shimmers through her clinging gown''.
The Kiss was done during his ''Golden Phase''. During this period he used gold leaf prominently on the artwork, which brought him both success and critical acclaim.
During the month of January 2020, I had book flight tickets to Munich, Germany and had already reserved accommodations of what was supposed to be a month long backpacking trip to Central Europe where my wife and I had planned to visit 11 cities in eight countries. Among those cities was Vienna Austria, where many of Klimt's works can be view. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic was declared two months later and our trip cancelled. I am hoping that next year, we'll be able to finally travel abroad and embark on this adventure.
I have seen a few Klimt paintings in the past decade, including the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer 1 at the Neue Gallery in New York City during the month of February 2013, Hope 1 (1903) at the National Gallery in Ottawa during the month of April 2014 and a small exhibition of Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele entitled "Judith and Edith" that was shown at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, The Netherlands (May 2016).
This painting is my fifth installment in as many years, featuring a large Hershey's chocolate Kisses which is a seasonal product only available from Christmas til Valentine's Day.
UPDATE - During the spring of 2023, my wife Suzanne and I finally did get to travel to Central Europe which included Vienna, Austria. On May 1, we attempted to visit the Upper Belvedere Palace two hours before closing, but all remaining admission tickets for that day were already sold out. That evening, we bought tickets on-line for the following morning that had a time slot in order to visit the art museum. It was at this moment that I realized how famous this painting had become. The room in which the painting is on display was packed with admirers who wanted their pictures taken with it. From previous art museum visits, as far as popularity goes, it is on par with Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, Picasso's Guernica and Van Gogh's A Starry Night . The Upper Belvedere also house several other Gustav Klimt paintings, as did the Leopold Museum which had a replica of his art studio and the Secession Art Museum where some of his iconic murals are on display on the lower floor.
with The Kiss at the Upper Belvedere Palace
Vienna, Austria - May 2, 2023
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