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The Top 5 Kisses...in Art!

Updated on January 31, 2014

It's in the Kiss

"Now a soft kiss - Aye, by that kiss, I vow an endless bliss." - John Keats

Throughout the ages, artists have tried to capture the essence of love and romance through their interpretations of a kiss. A kiss can be a sign of love, it can be passionate, romantic or even innocent. There have been many depictions of a kiss in art, whether in paintings, sculptures or photographs; one thing is true, it is a subject that captivates us all.

In the words of Edmond Rostand, "A kiss is a message too intimate for the ear, infinity captured in the bee's brief visit to a flower, secular communication with an aftertaste of heaven, the pulse rising from the heart to utter its name on a lover's lip: 'Forever."

There are many artworks to choose from and to narrow it down to just a few has been a difficult task but here are my top 5 kisses in art.

Rene Magritte, The Lovers (1928)
Rene Magritte, The Lovers (1928) | Source

The Lovers

Perhaps one of my favorite paintings ever, The Lovers by Rene Magritte, a Belgian Surrealist artist; depicts two figures kissing through a sheet. A lot of Magritte's art has an air of mystery and can be quite thought provoking, as Magritte challenges the viewer to think outside of their preconceived notions of reality. Like many other artists that came before him, Magritte choose love as the subject for one his artworks. In this painting, The Lovers, Magritte depicts the frustrated desires of two figures. They are separated by a barrier, perhaps one they are blind to, and cannot fulfill their passion. Their kiss cannot be a complete kiss as their lips never truly meet, yet I feel that although they do not touch their desire is so great they must try even through the barrier of the sheet. Love shall prevail!

Pygmalion and Galatea Jean-Léon Gérôme (French, Vésoul 1824–1904 Paris)
Pygmalion and Galatea Jean-Léon Gérôme (French, Vésoul 1824–1904 Paris) | Source

Pygmalion and Galatea

A more traditional painting with perhaps the most imaginative take on love, Jean-Leon Gerome depicts the moment when the sculpture of Galatea was brought to life by the goddess Venus, in fulfillment of Pygmalion’s wish for a wife as beautiful as the sculpture he created. The idea that the artist fell so deeply in love with his creation that he asked the goddess to make her come to life is one of romance and passion. Gerome has captured the intensity of the moment beautifully, as the artist is taken aback by the realization that his sculpture has come to life but he wastes no time to embrace and kiss her.

Gustav Klimt, The Kiss (1908)
Gustav Klimt, The Kiss (1908) | Source

The Kiss

Austrian born Symbolist artist Gustav Klimt painted his take on love, The Kiss in 1908. He depicts two lovers enwrapped in each other so closely that one cannot tell where one being begins and the other ends. The couple is shown in such a way that although Klimt does not show us their lips touching, instead the kiss is placed on the cheek makes this moment that more intimate. This is not just a kiss fueled by passion and desire, it is one of tender endearment, a kiss that is shared by two that truly are lovers.

Alfred Eisenstaedt’s image of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square on V-J Day in 1945.
Alfred Eisenstaedt’s image of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square on V-J Day in 1945. | Source

V-J Day in Times Square

Photography, the ability to capture life in the moment; such a wonderful concept and one particularly new to the world of art if one takes into account the hundreds of years of paintings and sculptures that came before its invention. Photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt famously captured the moment when an American sailor kissed a woman in a white dress in Times Square New York City in 1945. The spontaneity and honesty of the kiss captured by Eisenstaedt are what make this photograph so remarkable and memorable. The photograph was published in Life magazine a week after it was taken and the rest is history!

Auguste Rodin, The Kiss (1882)
Auguste Rodin, The Kiss (1882) | Source

The Kiss

Paintings and photographs are wonderful ways to capture a kiss but nothing can capture the entire movement and detail of the physical body during a kiss like a sculpture. Auguste Rodin, the famous French sculptor, did just that with his marble sculpture, The Kiss in 1889. The couple is embracing and completely surrendering to their passionate kiss. Rodin has captured the couple as they are entwined in an intimate moment. The sculpture was originally a part of Rodin's bronze portal The Gate of Hell but it is clear these lovers deserve a piece all to themselves.

So Many Kisses, So Little Time

If only I could have chosen more famous kisses in art, but alas I had to narrow it down to these five, which truly are my favorites.

If you have any comments about these five works of art or perhaps I failed to mention your favorite kiss, comment below. I'd love to hear from you!

Kiss, Kiss

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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 22 months ago from Oklahoma

      Wonderful representations. My favorite has to be the sailor and the nurse.

    • Robie Benve profile image

      Robie Benve 21 months ago from Ohio

      Great kiss artwork! Some I think I had never seen before, like the Gerome one. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing info on such lovely artwork.

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