“Here’s Looking at You” Ronald Kok, 2016, Charcoal on paper
Though it is February 15, I thought it might still be okay to stay on the Love theme of Valentine’s Day! Here are some famous romantic images from the history of art (and one not-so-famous that I drew myself – my wife and I on our wedding day). You’ll see the tenderness, emotion, passion, ridiculousness, clumsiness and mystery of love in these artworks. A kiss is just a kiss… unless it is preserved forever on paper, canvas or in stone, of course.
“The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt, 1908. Certainly the most famous of all of Klimt’s work, infused with his trademark eroticism.
“Pygmalion and Galatea” by Jean-Leon Gerome, 1890. This painting depicts the story by Ovid of Pygmalion, the statue created by Galatea, which is brought to life by the goddess Venus.
“In Bed: the Kiss” by Henri de Toulouse-Latrec, 1892. For its time period, this is a shockingly intimate moment to be portrayed in art.
“The Kiss” by Constantin Brancusi. One of four versions of this sculpture that Brancusi created. This work makes me laugh as it reminds me that most of us don’t have that Greek god/goddess body: We look more like one of these two!
“The Kiss” by Auguste Rodin. And then there are those with those Greek god/goddess bodies… In this famous sculpture, the lovers’ lips never actually touch, symbolizing a story to two lovers who were killed before they had the chance to consummate their love for each other.
“The Birthday” by Marc Chagall, 1915. Chagall pictures himself and his wife Bella in dreamy and playful bliss on the occasion of her birthday. As others have remarked, Chagall illustrates how he could bend over backwards for love.
“Kiss V” by Roy Lichtenstein, 1964. I love Lichtenstein’s comic book-inspired art. This embrace leaves room for ambiguity: Is this joy, sadness, or grief? We can’t be sure. However, we can be sure of the genuine affection and empathy of this piece, despite the graphic art nature of it.