Like all of Gustav Klimt’s work, “The Kiss” glows with gilded erotic imagery amid swirls of flamboyant ornamentation. One of Klimt’s most inspired works, “The Kiss” submerges most of the couple’s bodies in vast golden waves, representing the melding of selves experienced by lovers. An Austrian iconoclast, Klimt (1862 – 1918) rose from childhood poverty to become an artist who significantly impacted the Viennese Secession and Art Nouveau styles.
Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863 – 1944) created haunting paintings conveying the grief of his own life. Initially inspired by Impressionism and Post-Impressionism while painting in Paris and Berlin, Munch developed his signature style filled with agonizing images of sickness and death. His profound sadness, which he believed fueled his creativity, was caused by one sister’s commitment to an asylum, and the deaths of his other sister, mother and father before he was 25. An exhibition of his work in Berlin was considered so disturbing that authorities closed the show. The powerful influence of Munch’s enormous body of work is still felt in today’s graphic art.