It was in Venice, Italy, at the Galleria Internazionale d’arte Moderna located in Cà Pesaro, the most important baroque Venetian palace, that Robert Langdon, the main character in Dan Brown’s Inferno, saw for the first time Gustave Klimt’s masterpiece The Kiss while it was on loan from Vienna.
Langdon credited Venice’s Cà Pesaro with arousing his lifelong gusto for modern art.
The painter Gustave Klimt
The Austrian painter Gustave Klimt was born in 1862 in Vienna and died in there in 1918. He was one of the founders of the school of painting known as the Vienna Secession, founded in 1897 by a group of painters concerned with, above all else, exploring the possibilities of art outside the confines of academic tradition. The style is known for its flat perspective, references to nature, and curved lines. Klimt remained with the Secession until 1908.
After studying at the Vienna School of Decorative Arts, Klimt opened in 1883 an independent studio specializing in the painting of murals. His early work was typical of late 19th-century academic painting, as can be seen in his murals for the Vienna Burgtheater (1888) and on the staircases of the Kunsthistorisches Museum.
Klimt’s mature style emerged in 1897, in which year he painted three allegorical murals (Philosophy, Medicine, and Jurisprudence ) for the ceiling of the University of Vienna’s auditorium, which were violently criticized; the erotic symbolism and pessimism of these works created such a scandal that the murals were rejected.
Klimt’s most successful works include The Kiss (1907–08) and a series of portraits of fashionable Viennese matrons such as Frau Fritza Riedler (1906) and Frau Adele Bloch-Bauer (1907).
In the early 1890s Klimt met Emilie Louise Flöge who, notwithstanding the artist’s relationships with other women, was to be his companion until the end of his life. His painting The Kiss is thought to be an image of them as lovers.
Klimt’s paintings have brought some of the highest prices ever recorded for individual works of art.
The Kiss by Klimt: description and meaning
The Kiss, Klimt’s most famous painting, was realised between 1907-08, the highpoint of Klimt “Golden Period,” when he painted a number of works in a similar gilded style. The inspiration for his “Golden Phase” was presumably provided by a visit to Ravenna during his travels through Italy in 1903, which introduced him to the world of Byzantine mosaics. For Klimt the flatness of the mosaics and their lack of perspective and depth only enhanced their golden brilliance, and he started to make unprecedented use of gold and silver leaf in his own work.
The Kiss is housed in the Austrian Gallery in Vienna’s Upper Belvedere Palace.
The painting depicts a couple embracing in a field of flowers. The man is bent over the woman, and she, clinging tightly to him, awaits his kiss. In terms of ornamentation, the male figure is characterized by square and rectangular forms, while for the female, soft lines and floral patterns are dominant.
A golden halo surrounds the couple, who seem to have shaken off an earthly weight and have been transported into an infinite, almost sacred sphere.
Paintings such as The Kiss were visual manifestations of the fin-de-siecle spirit because they capture a decadence conveyed by opulent and sensuous images.
Picture by www.ebay.co.uk