Love is a universal theme, and can be found in multiple art forms including painting, poetry, and music. One of the most common romantic expressions and symbols of love is the kiss. In 1907, Gustav Klimt painted "The Kiss," perhaps his most famous painting characterized not only by its subject of a man kissing a woman but also its use of gold paint and Art Nouveau style. In 1939, poet Stephen Dunn published "The Kiss," which conveys a similar type of eroticism as Klimt's painting. Finally, in 1986, Prince produced one of his most famous songs and videos, "Kiss." All three of these kiss themed works of art convey the theme of erotic and sensual love, which is a common theme in the humanities.
The earliest of these three works of art is Gustav Klimt's painting "The Kiss." This painting is unique because it almost appears like a collage, the way the couple seems superimposed upon a gold background. One of the striking visual elements of this painting is the way the shape of the two bodies of the man and the woman blend together. There is no distinct line between them, suggesting that the man and woman have "become one" through their love, symbolized by the passionate embrace and kiss. However, Klimt also shows that the two individuals are indeed separate by giving their garments a different pattern. The man's garment is comprised of black and white rectangles on a yellow-gold background. On the other hand, the woman wears floral clusters of multiple jewel tones. Her dress matches the flowerbed on which the couple kneels together, showing that she is grounded. Moreover, both the man and woman have flowers in their hair, but the man's flowers are green against his dark hair and hers are multicolored against lighter hair. The couple is also covered in a gold halo that rests against a darker gold background so that they stand out and the viewer cannot stop looking at them. It is interesting that although the woman has her arm around the man's neck and the other grasps his hand, that she turns her head away from his kiss and we can see her lips not kissing him back. Is she tired, or does her limp posture suggest that she does not feel as passionately about him as he does about her? If the couple were not encircled in a gold halo, their bodies blended together, it might look like the man is being aggressive.
The man's yearning for his beloved is echoed in Dunn's poem "The Kiss," in which the narrator writes, "How many years I must have yearned for someone's lips against mind." The poet deliberately uses the word "mind" instead of "mine," as in the...
A typo." The narrator, likely a male like the poet, yearns for a woman who understands him completely. She knows exactly where to kiss him: "Nothing like a woman who knows / to kiss the right thing at the right time." As with Klimt's painting, the kiss Dunn refers to is clearly erotic as to suggest sexual union, for the narrator states, "She kissed me again, reaching that place that sends messages to toes and fingertips, then all the way to something like home." Klimt conveys sexual love by merging the two bodies into one form and using sensual lines, colors, and flowers. The poet Dunn conveys sexuality by speaking of the erotic sensations that come from kisses that "send messages to toes and fingertips." Using different media, the painter and poet can say much the same thing.
Similarly, a musician can also convey the theme of erotic love with imagery of the kiss. In "Kiss," Prince starts the song with an emphatic grunt, letting the audience know that the song will be sexy. The funk guitar also suggests sexiness. As Prince starts to sing and dance in the video, his androgyny is a potent symbol of sexuality and individual self-expression. If the union between a separate man and woman in a kiss is the theme of Klimt's painting and Dunn's poem, then Prince's androgyny represents the union of male and female into one human being. Throughout the video, Prince wears different outfits, many of which are stereotypically female. The person playing guitar next to Prince is also androgynous, letting the audience know that gender and sexuality are main themes in the song. Androgyny is represented not only in their physical appearances but also in Prince's falsetto voice. The dancer wears a full-body veil, which blurs the distinction between male and female. "Women, not girls, rule my world. Act your age, not your shoe size," proves to be a strong feminist message in the song, too, which corresponds with the gender-bending theme because gender bending and androgyny subvert patriarchal social norms…
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