The Ubiquity of Love in Art

Love in Art

Love means more than just roses

Love in art has always been an integral motivating force for not only the artistic world but for life itself. We all speak in terms of what we love. Whether it be a great meal or favorite song, or, more importantly, someone that counts to us, the source of our affections rarely matters. What truly matters, and continues to matter throughout the ages, is the way this feeling can be translated onto another person. Also, the way of raising them up beyond the normal people they are and granting them a spot in our very souls. Artists throughout the ages have tapped into this transformative emotion in order to represent love in art. We should always be mindful of those important to us, and the power love gives us.

Love motivates more than just the heart

Great artists have all been inspired by that which they love the most. Some of the most beautiful and powerful artworks representing love in art history have been a direct result of the love the artist has in his life. Even if Valentine’s Day is just a day we almost celebrate by habit, the emotion the day is based on still has a significant impact on all of us. Here are some famous artists who have created unparalleled beauty with their emotions that come from the heart.

Love in art of Gustav Klimt

Love in Art - The Kiss by Gustav Klimt (1908)
The Kiss by Gustav Klimt (1908)

One of the most enduring masterpieces that is easily and happily remembered is The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. The painting has been one of the most inspiring and romantic masterpieces ever created. The intimacy and primacy of the emotions on display in the piece depict clearly what love in art means. Painted during the “Golden” period of Klimt’s work, where he decided to use a gilded style to heighten the power of his imagery, the work shows a couple, clearly in love, embracing. The raw power and beauty of the image are breathtaking to behold, not only because of the couple in their emotional embrace but also due to the foreground and background elements. The very world around them shimmers and gleams as if existence itself is celebrating the love of the couple.
Klimt, a very passionate and loving man, devoted himself towards such expressions of love in art, and The Kiss is one of many examples of his dedication.

Love in art of Jean-Michel Basquiat

Madonna and Basquiat Romance
Basquiat and Madonna’s romance

A passionate and fiery visionary, Basquiat’s work doesn’t necessarily familiarize itself with love as a strict concept. His life was tumultuous with passion and his romances more than once seeped into his work. Of his many loves, for instance, was Madonna – the two having a great depth of feeling and respect for each other, eventually becoming distant and separating. It is said that Basquiat took back and destroyed the paintings he created for her, as he was torn up about the breakup.

His raw emotion and passion, and his rage against the status quo define his art. Not exactly what most people imagine when they think about expression of love in art, but love apparently inspired and drove the man to create works of brilliance.

Love in art of Keith Haring

Love in Art - Keith Haring Heart (1982)
Keith Haring – Heart (1982)

As a man who made love one of his most important images and themes, Keith Haring’s entire body of work revolves around love in one form or another. Whether it be the brotherly or sisterly love we have for one another, as evident in works featuring two figures dancing under a heart, or the more fiery, sexual love we also have for each other. Haring focused his artistic talents to a fine point when his subject matter happened to intersect his personal life with his desires. Haring himself was homosexual, and love in his art was dedicated to the pure, passionate life he enjoyed with other men.
The heart-love motif of his works would be a pure distillation of his philosophy and a publicly accessible and approachable work that conveyed his ideas. While his homoerotic art, brazenly displaying his sexuality in a time that was less than amenable to homosexuality, is beautiful and poignant, it is still rather less well-known than his tamer works. Needless to say, however, that without Haring’s push against the social mores of the time, there’s no telling what the state of sexuality would be. It was critically important for artists such as Haring to voice their statements, and Haring will always be remembered for championing his lifestyle and beliefs.

Love in art of Rene Magritte

The bizarre and brilliant style of Magritte has been most famously depicted in works like The Son of Man and The Treachery of Images. However, that doesn’t mean the man was unconcerned with the concept and evocative power of love. In his masterpieces, The Lovers and The Lovers II, two lovers are seen with bags over their heads and kiss passionately in Lovers II. At once, it gives us a warm, yet haunting, love in art image of lasting power. Painted in 1928, this image was possibly inspired by ‘Fantomas’ – a hero of the shadows, akin to Zorro or Batman, of the 1910’s. Although Magritte disliked explanations of his work, the interpretive power of the masterpiece is easily shown, giving a familiar image an unusual, haunting twist.

Love in art - The Lovers 1 and The Lovers 2 (1928) - René Magritte
The Lovers series by René Magritte (1928)

Despite any negative feelings that the image conveys, it’s just as equally apparent that the two lovers are very much that – two people in love. Perhaps the bags symbolize the struggles, and strife couples go through to be together. Maybe it simply shows the difficulties of love itself, but nonetheless, they give us hope that the lovers are still willing to try what they desperately want: to love each other, despite all odds. Even though the prevailing atmosphere of Magritte’s work is one of confusion and unease, The Lovers series can still be seen as the triumph of love in a world gone astray.

Love in art of Frida Kahlo

The life of Frida Kahlo was fraught with hardships and misery. She spent years sick and bedridden, allowing her the time and opportunity to hone her art to a razor’s edge and use it to shock the world. As one of the most popular and influential female artists of the century, Kahlo had an intensely passionate life, focusing her artistic talents mostly on herself and the way she saw her own body and emotions. Love in art of Kahlo is focussed on her one true love, Diego Rivera.

Love in Art - Frida and Diego Rivera, 1931 by Frida Kahlo
Frida and Diego Rivera, 1931 by Frida Kahlo

The relationship she had with Diego was fraught with difficulty, but nevertheless, Kahlo loved the man deeply. In one of her masterworks, Frida and Diego Rivera, 1931, the artist shows hints at the passionate and rocky love the two had for each other. Frida would later say about her lover that, “Being the wife of Diego is a marvelous thing in the world … I let him play matrimony with other women. Diego is not anybody’s husband and never will be, but he is a great comrade.” Truly, a complex but deeply profound relationship.

Love in art of Pablo Picasso

Picasso’s life was littered with love and relationships, almost to the point of absurdity. The man had many lovers all throughout his life, so on the face of it, it seems difficult to imagine any of them being genuine. The strength of the paintings he created for his lovers, however, tends to tell the opposite story. It seems that within each lover that the man had, a strong and creative force emerged, and he would channel this energy into works of startling brilliance seemingly with every new relationship.

Love in Art -The Dream by Pablo Picasso
The Dream by Picasso (1932)

One such work is Le Rêve or The Dream. Picasso created this enduring and brilliant representation of cubism for his, at the time, 22-year old mistress Marie-Therese Walter. Apparently painted on an afternoon in 1932, this portrait of his love is incredibly intimate and personal, giving us a serene and beautiful look into the life of a genius.

Give a gift that matters

Love is an extremely powerful emotion that has been with humanity forever and will remain with us as long as we remain who we are. Meaningful expressions of this emotion, whether they be with flowers, crafts, or other expressions of beauty, can impact our lives. Love in art can also impact lives of those we love in ways we could never imagine. It’s important to take the time out of our busy schedules to truly appreciate and marvel at those important to us, because they, in essence, make us who we are. We are what we love, after all!

An Enduring Emotion

Love in art, and the various expressions of this emotion, is sure to last the test of time. It is integral and it is appealing to us all. Days like Valentine’s day are important, not for the obligations of gift-giving or other consumerist contrivances around holidays. Valentine’s day gifts give us an incentive and an excuse to tell those important to us just how important they are. It’s important to unpack your heart with words now and then, because otherwise those important to us will never hear about it. No matter if you’re a brilliant artist or a simple barista looking for the right way to tell someone you love them, the strength of the love in art is timeless and here to stay.

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