‘What a strange question,’ you might ask. I don’t blame you. I am just learning, exploring and enjoying the effects of what technology has on the work of artists. More specifically, I tried using my amateur interest in paintings and sculpture, to delve into the subject by studying artistic renditions of a kiss.
The Kiss has been a popular subject of human emotional expression executed in both paintings and sculpture. Similarly, film and television, literature, music and other forms of Art continue to find kiss an alluring subject. “Lovers close their eyes when they kiss because, if they didn’t, there would be too many visual distractions to notice and analyze.”
The Kiss in Paintings & Sculpture since the 18th Century
1. Canova Sculpture, Psyche Revived By Cupid’s Kiss – 1787
The mythological lovers Pysche and Cupid at their moment of great emotion was exquisitely sculptured by Venetian sculptor Antonio Canova. When I first saw this piece of his work at the Louvre, I had to restrain myself from running my fingers over it. Why? Canova was famous for marble sculptures, but the way he had delicately rendered nude flesh so sensually has to be seen to believe. In my opinion, no technologically advanced material can rival the use of marble in the hands of the creative Man.
2. Hayez Painting, The Kiss – 1859
Francesco Hayez painted a couple from the Middle Ages embracing while kissing each other. In Milan recently, I saw his painting The Kiss at the Brera Art Gallery which is within the Palazzo Brera. Now I can appreciate why it is considered to be among the most passionate and intense representation of a kiss in the history of western art. I like the rendition of the blue dress with its shimmering silk-like texture. It’s not technology that sets him apart, it’s his skills displayed in his grand historical paintings and political allegories.
3. Rodin Sculpture, The Kiss – 1882
This is Auguste Rodin’s most famous sculpture. Locked in embrace, the lips of the lovers do not meet. It is a tragic story where the lady and her husband’s brother were killed by her husband. Rodin willed his studio and works to France and his encouragement to have his works made into editions have enabled us to enjoy his art more widely. I benefited from Rodin’s far-sightedness. I first saw a copy of The Kiss whilst I was in secondary school during an art excursion with a very dedicated art teacher Patrick. I’d like to credit Rodin’s works to pure human genius and creativity over technology.
4. Toulouse-Lautrec Painting, The Kiss – 1892
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec painted this ‘In Bed: The Kiss’ in 1892. To view more of his works which captures people in their working environment is still in my bucket list. The Kiss depicts two prostitutes in lesbian love. He often painted female couples in cozy positions and after painted many, he is supposed to have said, “This is better than anything else. It is the epitome of sensual delight.” I don’t think technology, at least not yet, is able to sense sensuality even if we can use it to paint digitally.
5. Brancusi Sculpture, The Kiss – 1908
Constantin Brancusi, the Romanian-French sculptor is considered to be the father of modern sculpture and is known for his use of geometric lines. He depicted The Kiss as one between two lovers, locked in embrace, and merged into one with the lips and eyes joined. I have included seeing more of Brancusi’s works into my bucket list. From his works, I think the artist’s creativity triumphs over technology. “What is real is not the appearance, but the idea, the essence of things.”
6. Klimt Painting, The Kiss – 1909
Gustav Klimt painted The Kiss, considered to be his most popular work during his “Golden Period”. During that period his paintings were composed of oil paint with applied layers of gold leaf. This erotic masterpiece exemplifies the Viennese Art Nouveau style and its Arts and Crafts movement, and not technology! My wife has seen her favourite Klimt painting in the Belvedere Palace during our trip to the Austrian capital, but I had to attend a meeting. So it is still in my bucket list.
7. Eisenstaedt Photo, Kiss on V-J Day – 1945
Alfred Eisenstaedt photographed an American sailor kissing a woman in a white dress in Times Square, New York on 14 August 1945. It defines the moment of mass celebrations on the Victory over Japan Day (V-J Day). You can’t miss this photograph in Life and other magazines. It is iconic – symbolising the end of the Pacific War. This new art form is made possible by the camera – a product of technology for sure. It is just a tool, the means to an end.
8. Lichtenstein Painting, Kiss V – 1964
Roy Lichtenstein painted several version of kissing couples. His Kiss V is an all-time favourite and the style can be defined as a refined comic book illustration. Many pop art artists have copied Lichtenstein, but I am not yet a fan. It is not technology that drives his work, rather a change in style towards pop art.
9. Picasso Painting, The Kiss – 1967
Pablo Picasso drew these horny lovers in 1967. The Kiss was done with just a few spontaneous pencil sketches when the artist was 86. For one, I love Picasso’s early works and his 1932 painting ‘Girl Before Mirror‘ is my favourite since I was a teenage fan of the artist. The feeling was reignited when I saw the real painting in the Museum of Modern Art in New York during my visit in 2004. It was not technology that helped to produce Picasso’s seminal works, but his own passion for the joy of life.
10. Lek 3-D Printed Sculpture, The KI$$ – 2013
Lawrence Lek has adapted the latest in 3-D technology to produce his 3D-printed fabrication and rendered sculpture of The KI$$. Architect, artist and speculative sculptor, Lek explores the aesthetic and spatial freedoms arising from the blurring of the boundaries between the virtual and the real worlds. Technology, specifically the digital world, is fast impacting the world of the artists and sculptors.
My View and Prediction
I believe the impact of technology is taking roots in the world of art. In my 10 reviews of paintings and sculpture, I have used the evergreen subject of the kiss as the common denominator. From Canova’s sculpture of ‘Psyche Revived By Cupid’s Kiss’ in 1787 to Lek’s 3-D printed sculpture in 2013, a period of well over 300 years, the impact of technology has been miniscule until the recent past. I think the jury is still out there as regards the depth and range of the impact of technology in the world of art. In a fast changing world, humankind may want to slow down the flood of technology on things aesthetic. Or should we?
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