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The Kiss

M. Therese Southgate, MD
JAMA. 2008;299(6):611. doi:10.1001/jama.299.6.611.
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He died in Vienna in 1918 at the age of 55. One of the most controversial painters of this time, he left no self-portraits, no memoir, no manifesto, few personal letters. Even the thought of writing a simple letter, he said, made him feel anxious and “seasick.” Nor did he believe he was very interesting as a person. The only thing worth noting about him, he said, was that he was an artist and that he could paint and draw. Among his favorite subjects were women—especially the femme fatale as opposed to the hausfrau—and “other phenomena.” Accused of painting erotic, even pornographic, images, he said he would leave it to the pictures to speak for him.

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Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), The Kiss, 1907-1908, Austrian. Oil on canvas. 180 × 180 cm. Courtesy of Österreichische Galerie im Belvedere (http://www.belvedere.at/jart/prj3/belvedere/main.jart?rel=en), Vienna, Austria. Photo credit: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, New York, New York.



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