I present to you the famous “Kiss” by Gustav Klimt, from 1907, preserved in the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere in Vienna: every day, this painting is the destination of hundreds of tourists eager to contemplate what is considered the manifesto of Viennese secessionist art.
Countless are the people who consider life monotonous and boring because they lack the vitality and the deep desire to feel alive: every day is just another day that has to pass and that does not give a profound satisfaction on a human level.
Feeling bored when you have an occupation is a disturbing symptom of this spiritual malaise: often fear reigns supreme and makes many men feel threatened from all sides, to the point of pushing them to withdraw into themselves and not have fruitful relationships with others. other. The more fear is felt, the more man is tempted to withdraw and withdraw into himself.
Klimt’s work offers excellent medicine to this existential fatigue because the artist has succeeded in the difficult attempt to seize the moment of pure union of love.
This is precisely the idea that emerges from Klimt’s masterpiece: the woman is wrapped in the protective embrace of her partner who is kissing her and has an ecstatic face that refers to an a-temporal and a-spatial dimension towards which the two lovers are projected, as living a love story of any kind means soaring towards goals that transcend our own expectations.
The two lovers stand out in the center united so as to confuse their bodies.
Of the two heads, we see the man’s neck and the woman’s face which, almost in a complementary game, convey an intense inner fullness: they are a single body which, however, does not cancel the identity and diversity of the two protagonists, highlighted by the different geometric shapes that give shape to the sumptuous clothes of the lovers, square and angular for men, circular and spiral-shaped for women.
Even the hands express their peculiarity and diversity: those of the man are gnarled and tapered, while those of the girl have a diaphanous sheen.
The scene is set on a meadow full of flowers, a reference to the hortus conclusus which according to traditional iconography indicates personal interiority: the two lovers allow the other to enter their own inner space.
Only when one finds the courage to lower one’s defenses and to feel sincere mutual trust so much as to admit each one’s own weaknesses and needs can one experience a new freedom.
Even if supernatural faith seems to have nothing to do with this work, I like to remember that God has chosen the path of weakness to enter into a relationship with man: the great news of the Gospel is precisely that God made himself small and vulnerable and that from that condition managed to bear fruit.
His was a fruitful life because he chose not to cling to his divine power by making himself similar to men: he came as a small child, in need of care and the assistance of others; he lived as a poor preacher deprived of any political, economic or military power; he died on the cross like any other criminal.
Yet, in his extreme vulnerability he obtained and gave meaning and hope to the lives of millions of people throughout history: the fruit of this experience, failure to the human eye, is eternal life for all those who believe in him.
Much suffering is caused by the fear of admitting one’s limitations and asking for forgiveness, but many people have been transformed by the courage they have had to confess their faults or omissions and have thus discovered that, instead of losing a friend, they have earned one.
In my opinion, this represents the golden band that surrounds the two figures: it is the call to the transcendent overcoming of any conflict in the search for the ideal union.
Thanks for your attention.
Alessio Fucile Art Historian