The Kiss


The Kiss (original Der Kuss) was painted by Gustav Klimt, during his ‘golden period’, and is probably his most famous work. It depicts a couple, bound up in various shades of gold and symbols, sharing a kiss against a bronze background.

The dusky featured man dominates the woman, holding her face to bestow the kiss. The woman with a lighter complexion kneels beneath the man, resignedly clutching his neck and hand.


The lovers are situated at the edge of a flowered escarpment. The man is wearing neutral coloured rectangles and a crown of vines; the woman wears brightly coloured tangent circles and flowers in her hair. The twain’s embrace is enveloped by triangular vining and a veil of concentric circles.


Similarly juxtaposed couples appear in both Klimt’s Beethoven Frieze and Stoclet Frieze.

Various interpretations of The Kiss:


  • That the shared gold shrouding and indeterminate background evokes the timelessness and union of selves that a kiss can engender.
  • That it represents how bright, beautiful, and golden everything is when you first kiss someone.
  • That the man is lost in the kiss (faceless and unidentifiable) while the woman is turning her head away and is aloof from the kiss.
  • That the female is succumbing to the male and experiencing a moment of sexual ecstasy.
  • That is a symbolic representation of the kiss of Apollo to Daphne at the moment she is transforming into a laurel tree (Ovid, The Metamorphosis).
  • The Kiss exemplifies a loss of self, reconciliation and unity that only lovers experience.

The couple stimulate different energies contributing to the connection. The man displays knowledge, black and white contrast, and binary information, as his energy towards the woman. The woman supports this by using her femininity, warmth, and decorous flowers as her energy towards the man. The woman is rooted in the ground, may be symbolizing her connection as "Mother Nature," which means its only normal that she connects as the image of flowers. Underneath the man pictures of rabbits are visible and are benefiting from Mother Nature’s grass. This symbolism of connection between the two parts is the essence of what love means.


Some think that Klimt and his beloved companion Emilie Flöge modeled for the masterpiece.

The Kiss is a discreet expression of Klimt’s emphasis on eroticism and the liberation therein. The Kiss falls in line with Klimt’s exploration of fulfillment and the redeeming, transformative power of love and art. The Kiss is deviant from Klimt’s frequent portrayal of women as the lascivious femme fatale. Of course he helped many realize this ‘potential’..




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