Sunday, February 9, 2020

Assembling "The Kiss"

Putting together a puzzle of a complex, very famous painting turned out to be an interesting experience. (Sorry about the missing piece; I'm convinced the cat did it.) We know this as "The Kiss" but Klimt also exhibited it as "The Lovers."

It's a wonderful painting, one of the masterpieces of the Art Noveau era, somewhat dimmed for many by its popularity–in the 1980s at least it was in every third dorm room in America. This is the original, now in Vienna; note that not just my puzzle but most dorm room posters cut it down to something narrower, shedding some of the starry background. I think this is a fabulous example of what artists in that era (1908) were able to achieve after they shed the limits of academic "realism."

No photograph can really do it justice, because it is textured and speckled all over with gold leaf, but this image still shows you a lot. And as I can tell you from staring it all week, there is a lot to see. Start with the pattern. Notice that the space of the man's body is defined by the patter of black and white rectangles, that of the woman's by flowers, marking off distinctly different male and female spaces.

Klimt loved playing with these patterns; here is another painting of his from the same period, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907.

These are not simple, repeating patterns, but complex arrangements of unique elements.

The lovers are surrounded by a sort of halo of golden ovals and spirals, enveloping them and setting them off from the mundane world. And now that the puzzle is done maybe I'll be online a little more this week.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

I find myself reminded of Byzantine art.

Hard to put my finger on why, exactly. Color palette, of course. The halo effect, most definitely. But perhaps also the way the bodis and faces, especially the eyes, are depicted? Obviously this is substantially softer and more abstract, but still...