The Depression-era song “A Kiss to Build a Dream On,” which Louis Armstrong made famous in the ’50s, finishes with the lyrics: “Oh give me your lips for just a moment/ And my imagination will make that moment live/ Oh give me what you alone can give/ A kiss to build a dream on.” Over the course of art history, painters, sculptors, poets, and photographers have — as the song suggests — used their vivid imaginations to bring the kiss to life as a symbol of fresh love, renewed love, and even black-and-blue love.
With Valentine’s Day in mind, we’ve selected the 10 best art kisses — ranging from erotic embraces in paintings by Gérôme and Klimt and sensual smooches in sculptures by Rodin and Brancusi to lustful lip-locking in works on paper by Picasso and Man Ray — so that you, too, can share the love. If we missed one of your favorite make-out moments in art, tell us about it in the comments.
Click through below for a gallery of images.
Jean-Léon Gérôme’s 1890 painting of Pygmalion and Galatea, from New York’s Metropolitan Museum’s collection, depicts a tale from Ovid’s Metamorphoses of Pygmalion creating a sculpture of Galatea, which he envisions as the ideal woman and wishes could be real, being brought to life by the goddess Venus and joyfully embraced by the artist in his studio.