In The Kiss, Klimt paints a golden-toned, intricate scene that depicts a man and women engaged in a deep and passionate kiss. The man, composed of neutral-colored rectangles, appears as the dominant figure, as he is completely draped over the woman. Both of his hands are placed on her face, as he holds her head while he kisses her cheek. Based on the thickness of his neck, he appears to be strong and protective of the woman, uninterested in anything except for her. The woman, however, consists of various circles that construct the outline of her dress. The viewer’s attention is immediately drawn to her pale face, which compliments her rosy cheeks and tiny, delicate lips. The delicacy of her face and the way she seems to hang from the man’s neck makes her seem vulnerable, but it also highlights the fact that a woman has the capability to tempt a man with her sexuality. Her small hands gently rest on top of his, demonstrating that they are enjoying each other’s touch. Finally, the golden vines that hang from her legs and droop onto a patch of multifarious flowers add to the overall sense of beauty that dominates the painting.
The woman’s calm expression and slim stature exemplify people’s definition of beauty in the twentieth century. The two figures seem to blend together, as if they are literally lost within each other. The bright tone of the picture represents the magnificence of love, both physically and emotionally. Contrary to art prior to Art Nouveau, this work depicts beautiful women as thin, gentle, and inferior to men. Beautiful women were not powerful or intelligent, but they were romantic wives with desirable features.
Greenhalgh, Paul. A New Style for a New Age. <http://www.nga.gov/feature/nouveau/exhibit_intro.shtm>