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The Kiss by Gustav Klimt depicts the two lovers outside of time and space through their passion and desire for one another. There is much debate about the identity of the man and woman in this painting. According to a widespread explanation, the man with a beard is Klimt's attempt to paint himself, which he rarely did. Some believe the woman may be Emilie Flöge, a close friend and his longtime companion. Others have posited that woman was salon hostess and society woman Adele Bloch-Bauer. There is another version that the sitter is very much similar to a famous model nicknamed Red Hilda. Some historians believe that The Kiss depicts the kiss between Apollo and Daphne or Orpheus and Eurydice in the Greek myths.

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The Kiss by Gustav Klimt is one of the most iconic paintings from the Art Nouveau period. Klimt reached the apex of his signature style—a fusion of the linear compositions of Art Nouveau, the organic forms of the Arts and Crafts movement, and his interest in human passions. The couple on painting are entwined and their two figures and encompassed by a golden shroud, covered in gilded, Art Nouveau style patterns, creating a very sensual, atmospheric composition. Several other schools of art were an inspiration for this painting.

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Gustav Klimt painted the final painting of his Gold Period, during which he incorporated gold leaf into his works, The Kiss in 1908 at a critical moment in his career. He had just received scathing criticism for his University of Vienna ceiling paintings, Philosophy, Medicine and Jurisprudence, and breaking away from the Secession. The Kiss was presented for the first time to the Viennese public at The Kunstschau exhibition organized around Klimt and colleagues which was received with fierce criticism and ended in financial disaster. Despite this, the exhibition initiated the astronomical success of The Kiss. The Viennese government bought the painting before the exhibition had ended, as it was deemed a national interest. Today, the painting is in the Austrian Gallery Belvedere in Vienna.

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