The multidimensionality of love and desire

“Kiss” versus “Caress”

It takes a comparison of two paintings from two art giants to illustrate the multidimensionality of love and desire. Egon Schiele’s painting "Cardinal and Nun (Caress)", painted in 1912, is inspired by his close friend and mentor-figure Gustav Klimt’s famous painting of five years earlier, "Kiss".

Schiele’s particular brand of genius here is at once recognizing the masterpiece in Klimt’s painting - predicting that it would become an iconic painting prior to it becoming one – yet paraphrasing it in such a way that his painting is completely his own, losing trace of Klimt's ephemeral sweetness and adding his own sexual, graphic, extreme touch.

The kiss in Klimt becomes a sexual caress in Schiele.

The public display in Klimt is dark secrecy in Schiele.

Happiness and serenity in Klimt. Angst and fear in Schiele.

  • WWH

    The Schiele’s woman appear to suffer her sensuality rather than enjoy.
    “Caress” = sex-torment+ guilt+ anxiety+ rejection + surprise. vs Klimt’s women enjoying their sexuality so in both paintings the male & female role reaction is evident.