Sunday, December 6, 2020

The Kiss

I looked at two objects in our collection and though they were created about 100 years apart they stuck me as similar, having   a universal quality and meaning. Their common subject, The Kiss. The Kiss is found in many cultures though it might take on different forms.  When it is on the cheek that could have many meanings, but on the lips … It is surprising that it is rarely depicted.

The first, I have mentioned before so suffice it to say that it is a Katsina group carved by a Hopi artist Ros George around 1995 representing a clown and a fertility Katsina kissing.

The other is an Art Nouveau Inkwell with an intertwined couple kissing as they emerge from ocean waves.  It was created by a Czech Artist, Peter Tereszczuk (1875-1963).  He was an Austrian-Ukrainian sculptor working in Vienna who specialized in small bronzes in the Art Nouveau style. The piece in our collection is an inkwell signed and dated 1900.

Of course, when I said to myself, The Kiss, the most famous came to mind, the sculptures by August Rodin: The Kiss and Eternal Springtime. Both are known in several versions and countless replicas too familiar to illustrate.

Then there is the sculpture by Constantin Brancusi, 1916, limestone, in the Philadelphia Museum. The Romanian modernist sculptor was showing off his proto-cubist style.  I look at it as an introduction to abstraction.  The plaster for this piece was shown in the landmark 1913 Armory Show, of which he had already made several between 1907-1908.

The Art Nouveau period has always been one of my favorites and the greatest proponent in painting might very well be Gustav Klimt. Austrian symbolist painter (1862-1918).  He painted one of the more passionate kisses. The Belvedere Museum in Vienna owns the painting, and it is said that the museum bought the picture before the paint was dry between 1907 and 1908.  The following I have taken whole hog from a website

"The Kiss" is a ménage of different schools of art. The gold leaf hearkens back to such Byzantine artworks as the mosaics in the Church of San Vitale. The composition of the work reflects the influence of Japanese prints that was also evident in some earlier Impressionist paintings. The contrasting patterns of the two lovers' cloaks reflects the Arts and Crafts movement of the era and overall, Klimt imbued "The Kiss" with elements of his signature Art Nouveau style.” 

I shall finish with a most unusual kiss by Marc Chagall painted in 1915 shortly before the marriage of the artist and his beloved Bella.  I can understand being so in love that you are walking or, maybe, flying on air.  The painting is in the Museum of Modern Art.   Chagall’s muse, Bella, worked hard to discover when his birthday was in order to surprise him and he recorded the event maybe not from a strictly realistic point of view but over the next 23 years, nothing much had changed as you see from the additional photo!  What a wonderful fantasy!


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