Sunday, December 6, 2009

Alternate readings

Gustav Klimt's The Kiss must be one of the most reproduced paintings in western art. I've seen it as posters, on the sides of ceramic mugs, and even as a necktie at some art museum gift shop. A print of it hangs in the office of Lori Brotto, a researcher of  female sexual desire, as profiled here.
Like most people who have glanced at a reproduction, I thought that it shows a man turning his head to kiss a woman.

But this article mentions two readings of the painting, "The couple in the painting, with the woman either bending sublimely in the man’s emphatic embrace or wincing away from his lips..."

Now that I look at the painting, I see how this interpretations fits the painting just as well as the conventional reading. The the angle of the woman's head suggests she is pulling away or turning her head. And woman doesn't exactly look happy.

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