If You Like The Kiss, You'll Love Itō Jakuchū

Zoom in and explore an artwork you already know and then find something completely new

By Google Arts & Culture

The Kiss (1908-1909) by Gustav KlimtBelvedere

Gustav Klimt, The Kiss (1907-1908)

It's a painting which needs no introduction. Klimt's embracing lovers have become one of the most recognizable images in history. 

Here, you can zoom in and see the real gold mixed into Klimt's paint. This richness, and the mix of styles, mean that The Kiss became a symbol of the old world transitioning into the modern world, as the 1800s ended and the 20th Century began.

You've probably seen The Kiss many times before, but do you know what inspired Klimt to create his strange, mesmerizing style?

Print (ca. 1900) by Itō JakuchūThe Metropolitan Museum of Art

Itō Jakuchū, Golden Pheasant and Bamboo in Snow (1700s)

Though painting in Austria at the turn of the 20th Century, Klimt was a great lover of the Japanese 'ukiyo-e' school of woodblock printing. 

Art historian, Svitlana Shiells, singles out Itō Jakuchū’s print, Golden Pheasant and Bamboo in Snow, which Klimt saw at the 1873 fair in Vienna, as a direct influence on his late portraits.

By zooming in, we can see how the mixing of textures, simple shapes, and contrast of dark tones with bright colors and gold...

The Kiss (1908-1909) by Gustav KlimtBelvedere

...is also used by Klimt to give his painting that shimmering look which catches the eye. 

Print (ca. 1900) by Itō JakuchūThe Metropolitan Museum of Art

Look at the smooth curves that Jakuchū uses to make the shape of the pheasant. 

Working with woodblock, Jakuchū would have made his picture by carving shapes then adding colored inks to make a print. When using wood, carving these long, smooth lines is easier than using short 'strokes' like a painter or someone doing a sketch.

The Kiss (1908-1909) by Gustav KlimtBelvedere

Looking again at The Kiss, we can see that Klimt also uses this type of line to create the shape of his intertwined figures.

He recreates the woodblock style with his brush, and makes his lovers stand out against the background, joined together in one shape. 

Gustav Klimt with his cat in front of his studio in the Josefstädter Straße 21 in Vienna (1911) by Moriz NährBelvedere

And, just to prove that Klimt loved Japanese art and culture, here's a picture of him in a kimono!

Zoom in to Golden Pheasant and Bamboo in Snow for yourself, or discover more about Japan's influence on Gustav Klimt with Floating Worlds.

Credits: All media
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