5 Kisses That Are Part Of Art History

Unlock the stories of love immortalized in canvas and sculpture with our list of 5 unforgettable kisses from art history.

Did you know that the 13th of April is the International Kiss Day? Not the band "Kiss", don't worry...!

I am aware that this might be a bittersweet piece of information for some of you, whose only option for a kiss might be the sculptures on this list... Just beware not to mistake the "human statue" beggars covered in silver spray paint downtown for real statues. They might charge your for that kiss!

1. The Kiss - Rodin (1889)

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The Kiss is a sculpture by the French artist Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). It was originally titled "Francesca da Rimini", the medieval historical figure who fell in love with her husband Giovanni Malatesta's younger brother Paolo as it's also referenced in Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy, but the couple are later discovered and killed by Francesca's husband...

The lovers' lips do not touch in the sculpture, creating further tension within the work. There! If you can't find someone to kiss the 13th of April, you can sneak in between these two... But beware of Francesca's husband or his reincarnation as the museum's security guard...!

2. Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss - Antonio Canova (1793)

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This masterpiece of Neoclassical sculpture by Antonio Canova (1757-1822) represents the god Cupid in the height of love and tenderness, immediately after awakening the lifeless Psyche with a kiss. Sounds familiar!

Well, the story was originally taken from the ancient roman author, Lucius Apuleius' "Metamorphoses" or how Saint Augustine liked to call it: "The Golden Ass"... No, he didn't pull the name out of his own ass... The main plot of the story revolves around a "curious" protagonist that whilst trying to perform a spell to transform into a bird, he is accidentally transformed into an ass (the animal...).

Well, back to Psyche and Cupid: The story within "Metamorphoses", relates another tale of consequential curiosity. Psyche had been warned by Venus against opening the jar she was given to collect a scrap of beauty from Proserpina to return back Venus, but Psyche gave way to curiosity peering into the jar to take some of the Divine Beauty for herself. However, Proserpina had not filled it with the Beauty, but rather with the "Sleep of the Innermost Darkness...". It is the moment in which Psyche is "a corpse asleep" revived by Cupid that Canova chose to depict.

3. In Bed: The Kiss - Toulouse Lautrec (1892)

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The Kiss (another one!) is part of a set of 4 works, along with 16 other portraits of prostitutes, commissioned to Toulouse Lautrec, by the owner of the brothel on rue d'Ambroise around 1892. These paintings would be decorating the main room of the brothel whose themes are lesbian and erotic in nature, but with tender connotations...

I'm definitely surprised! I bought a print from this series a while back, knowing my girlfriend would appreciate the aesthetic...To me it was just a tender scene, I didn't look in to it much, of course... If that's how brothels were decorated back then, I wouldn't mind taking some interior design tips from a 19th century pimp...!

4. The Kiss - Gustav Klimt (1908)

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In the famous painting Gustav Klimt depicts the couple locked in an intimate embrace against a gold, flat background, their bodies entwined in elaborate beautiful robes decorated in a style influenced by the contemporary Art Nouveau and the organic forms of the earlier Arts and Crafts movement. The use of gold leaf recalls medieval gold-ground paintings. And the man's head ending very close to the top of the canvas is a departure from traditional Western canons that reflects the influence of Japanese prints, as does the painting's simplified composition...

That was just an attempt to divide Klimt's painting style into different recognizable influences... Maybe it's a dishonor to his work... But who cares? You can now get the painting on a T-shirt...!

5. Kiss V - Roy Lichtenstein (1980)

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To finish this article, let's jump forward in time to the 80s! Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein mined advertisements and comics to make paintings that brought American pop culture into the gallery space... It is the most recent painting on the list but it somehow feels like the oldest... But I guess that was the intend: It was just a fad... And knowingly so:

Lichtenstein undermined the distinction between painting and printing as he made canvases that looked as though they’d come from a commercial press. He used paint and stencils to meticulously rendered flat, single-color benday dots by hand. What a nerd! Am I right, fellas...?

Whether you'd like to get nerdy or classy with your art making, Domestika has you covered!

Check out some of the links below! And don't worry, your curiosity won't turn you into an ass like in Lucius Apuleius' "Metamorphoses", just yet:

- Join our courses on Fine Arts
- Introduction to Clay Figure Sculpture
- 4 Clay Sculpture Ideas for Beginners

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