This painting is the most-celebrated work of Klimt. A pair of lovers is shown sunken in their knees. The ecstasy is revealed in the face of the woman and the sense of tenderness is conveyed through the hands. The couple is kneeling on a carpet of flowers backed by a background with drizzle of gold paint suggestive of stars.
A highly decorative scheme with heavy patterning and the dominance of gold is adopted. The rich ornamentations in different types are separated and put into different areas; some areas were painted in thicker paint to create a sense of low relief form. The patterns carry different meanings. The predominately rectangular shapes on the robe of the man suggest masculine qualities, while the circular motifs on the woman’s dress express the feminine attributes. Although the two figures are decorated with motifs of different shapes, they are enclosed by the golden form. The two not only consummated, but are absorbed into one. There is a heightened sense of sensuality and fantasy. The painting could be read as a symbolic statement about sexual love.
The portrayal of the theme of eroticism and the adoption of the highly decorative scheme are both the signature touches of Klimt in his ‘Golden Period.’ This work has become the icon of fin-de-siècle Vienna. Klimt and eighteen of his allies resigned from the Secession in 1905 and they opened a show in 1908, which is called Kunstschau (‘Art Show’). Sixteen works of Klimt including The Kiss was first shown at this show.