Love in Sculptures
“If I were to kiss you then go to hell, I would. So then I can brag with the devils I saw heaven without ever entering it.”
Art and Love are a perfect match and throughout art history, the concept of love has attracted artists from all walks of life.
For this reason art has always celebrated this union with all its forms of expression.
From photography to sculpture, from painting to comics, love, kissing and the physical and metaphysical union of bodies have been represented in a myriad of different ways and colours.
One encyclopaedia wouldn’t be enough to describe love throughout art history.
Hereafter you will find some of the most heartrending, riveting, significant and important examples in sculpture.
Love in Sculptures
Love in sculptures immediately leads us to think of Antonio Canova and Auguste Rodin.
The Venetian artist Antonio Canova is the greatest Neoclassical sculptor in Europe, being his talent for giving forms to bodies by carving marble unparalleled.
His masterpiece is a mythological love: Cupid, the Roman god of love – known by the Greeks as Eros -awakening Psyche, a human-turned-goddess, from inconsciousness with a kiss.
The composition is elegant and sophisticated, deliberate emulation of the classical Greek and Roman examples.
The marble bodies are soft, mouths are close, intense gazes, contemplating each other in a subtle and refined sensuality.
The elegance of the forms underlines the candor of the young lovers. This is Canova’s representation of beauty: the union between natural beauty and ideal beauty.
Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss, Antonio Canova, WikiCommons – Public Domain, Love in Sculptures
Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss, Antonio Canova, WikiCommons – Public Domain
The Kiss by Rodin, located in the Musée Rodin in Paris is one of the most famous representations of love in the art world.
The artist represented Paolo and Francesca, the lovers described in the Canto V of the Inferno by Dante Alighieri.
Francesca da Rimini fell in love with his husband’s younger brother, Paolo. According to Dante, her husband – Giovanni (Gianciotto) Malatesta – discovered and killed them, when they were exchanging their first kiss, a love they could never consummate.
We are in the presence of the description of another kind of love, the denied one.
Auguste Rodin, 1888, The Kiss, WikiCommons – Public Domain, Love in Sculptures
La bocca mi baciò tutto tremante.
Galeotto fu il libro e chi lo scrisse:
quel giorno più non vi leggemmo avante.
When of that smile we read,
The wished smile so raptorously kiss’d
By one so deep in love, then he, who ne’er
From me shall separate, at once my lips
All trembling kiss’d. The book and writer both
Were love’s purveyors. In its leaves that day
We read no more.
English translation from the Harvard Classics: The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri, translated by Henry F. Cary, 1909–14
The sculpture represents two lovers sitting, naked, Paolo e Francesca, though some claim that the carved characters are Rodin himself and his lover, Camille Claudel.
The subject is the illusion starting from the flesh and from the absolute sensuality made of passionate kisses and embraces.
Rodin’s use of marble recalls Michelangelo, while the “unfinished technique” and the art recall Donatello and Bernini.
The artist infuses such a vitality to the marble that those who observe it note the sequence of the two lovers’ movements.
This is the great paradox which put in evidence the talent of Rodin. The kiss was not considered as suitable for display in the France of the late 19th century, because of the intense, innovative and revolutionary, erotic charge which characterized it.
Rodin was able to represent the sensual love between the two lovers with their arms enveloping their bodies, their mouths melted into one, his hands holding his lover’s body. Paolo and Francesca seem destinated to remain forever united, born from the same block of marble and almost unidentified, impersonal.
Another Rodin’s sculpture to be mentioned is “Eternal springtime”.
In this sculpture, an overwhelming and impudent passion carries the couple away. The moment of pure bliss is represented in all parts and gestures become almost excessive, sensational.
Here Rodin gives us a representation of a propulsive and vibrant eros.
Rodin shows us without shame how natural love is, leaving us wondering whether there is more transport in pathos and vehemence in passionate gestures or more calmness and composure in the climax of eros.
Auguste Rodin, Eterna Primavera, WikiCommons – Public Domain
KOBE and love
This subject was covered by Kobe in all its forms.
The unconditional love of a mother for her child, in this 1998 work, where the considerable dispropotion of the dimensions of the two bodies gives form to the size of the love, as well as protection and care of a mother towards her child.
In the following more recent bronze sculpture, the love between two adults is celebrated.
In this work the equilibrium of gestures and proportions is perfect: two bodies melting into one, to form a single soul.
In the three following works the union, the love is more physical, eros magnified and perfect the choice of the materials to represent it: bronze and marble.
The coldness of bronze is warmed up by the brightness of this alloy, which enables the artist to play with lights and shadows, giving movement to the heavy-set yet curvy bodies.
The Egypt yellow marble used for the following sculpture takes us to another dimension: the mould is the same, but the resulting idea of love is different.
The temperature of colour is higher and the sculpture hypnotises us for the intimacy of the scene and the warmth it exudes.
“Les Amoureux du Banc Public” is yet another kind of love.
It represents a clandestine meeting, maybe a secret love lived intensely: they stare at each other, keeping the rest of the world away,
The colour of the bronze reminds us of Paris in the first half of the XX century.
The love described is the one of adulthood. It’s the consolidated story of two long time lovers. Gestures are intimate, affectionate. Tender and sad at the same time.