Produced at the height of Gustav Klimt’s gold period, The Kiss has become the artist’s most recognizable work. This lovers’ embrace, amid a wildflower meadow, retains its allure more than a century after it was painted.
In turn-of-the-century Austria, a culture of prudishness and moral rectitude was collapsing and a new order was being born. A leading member of the Vienna Secession, Klimt produced works of startling power, symbolism, and eroticism. His paintings that we now see as graceful, quietly sensual, and profoundly appreciative of their subjects were positively frightening to Austrian sensibility at the time. Today, Klimt is characterized as a radical agent of change who defied artistic convention.