Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss” (1908) ~ Themes of Feminism and Male Dominance Klimt’s The Kiss has enjoyed an enduring legacy, and I suspect it’s because, like so many famous paintings, its meaning is uncertain. One school of thought is that The Kiss shows, according to “Janson’s History of Art”, a faceless lustful male losing his identity as he is lured by passion and consumed by an enticing but indifferent femme fatale, who appears about to pull him over the edge into the abyss below. “Janson’s” notes that The Kiss was created shortly after the start of the late 19th century feminist movement and the emergence of The New Woman, both of which endangered historical male dominance. On the other hand, there is tremendous tension in The Kiss. The woman’s head is cocked uncomfortably against her shoulder; the fingers of her right hand are clenched and not relaxed; and she is perilously close to the cliff. None of this suggests the appearance of a New Powerful Woman shaking traditional male dominance. Instead, she looks dominated.