The Art of the Kiss

By Mercedes Weidmer

The kiss has been immortalized in art. let’s have a look at the best kisses in art history!

Rodin, The Kiss (1901-4)

Arguably the most famous sculpture of a kissing couple, Rodin’s The Kiss radiates passion and tenderness. He renders beautifully their texture (notice his hand on her leg), and captures an intimate moment, enshrining for all time it as a paragon of affection.


Klimt, The Kiss (1907-8)

More famous than Klimt himself, The Kiss is iconic for lovers and art-lovers everywhere. Available on mugs, magnets and male boxers alike, a copy can even be found on my wall! The couple come together in a tender embrace, fused together in a form that is symbolic of a phallus.  Cheeky eh?


Giotto, Arrest of Christ (Kiss of Judas), 1304

Giotto’s Arrest of Christ, more commonly known as Kiss of Judas, doesn’t depict a romantic kiss, but a famous one all the same! According to The Bible, after the Last Supper, Judas kisses Jesus as he betrays him, leading to Jesus’ arrest. It goes to show you, a kiss could be the kiss of death! Watch out folks.


Gérôme, Pygmalion and Galatea


Pgymalion fell in love with his sculpture Galatea, and dreamed he could have a wife as beautiful as the one he had created. Lucky for him, Venus made his wish come true. Gérôme captures this moment of transformation, from sculpture to woman in the flesh. 


Rene Magritte, The Lovers

In typical Magritte fashion, there is something not quite right about these lovers… Subtlety disturbing and fraught with sexual tension, their lips never meet. The cornice above them suggests a typical home of the middle class; perhaps they are imprisoned in the mundane repetition, blinded to reality.  As Magritte himself said, “Our secret desire, is for a change in the order of things”. 

Constantin Brancusi, The Kiss


This work is one of Brancusi’s most famous, showing a couple locked in tight embrace. Other than small gender differentiations, with the woman’s breasts and longer hair, the two are completely fused, and make up one Cyclopes-like figure. Talk about becoming one – these two are made of the same stone!

Kiss Doesn’t Kill, Greed and Indifference Do, 1987


Designed to resemble the Benetton ad-campaigns of the time, this project was part of a large-scale act to raise awareness about AIDS and discourage prejudice. These kisses are a political stand against the non-response to the AIDS crisis. They also sent out masses of cards with this image and the inscription “Corporate greed, government inaction and public indifference make AIDS a political crisis” on the back. Make your kiss count!


Roy Lichtenstein, Kiss II, 1962


This smooch is a pricey one – selling for a record $6 million in May of 1990! Sparks are flying in this Pop-Art classic, emphasized by the excitedly-spikey shapes in the background.  Lichtenstein questioned the fundamental notion of material hierarchy with his works resembling commercial art from a commercial press – quite a controversial kiss…


Dmitri Vrubel, Graffiti painting on Berlin Wall My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love 1990

In the icy years of the Cold War, Vrubel’s graffiti is based on a photo taken during the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the German Democratic Republic of East Germany in 1979. Photographer Regis Bossu caught the two, Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker, in a customary socialist fraternal kiss. Mighty cozy for a Cold War!