The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is closed until further notice.
From humorously clinical depictions of erotic events in the Dada period, Max Ernst moved on to celebrations of uninhibited sexuality in his Surrealist works. His liaison and marriage with the young Marie-Berthe Aurenche in 1927 may have inspired the erotic subject matter of this painting and others of this year. The major compositional lines of this work may have been determined by the configurations of string that Ernst dropped on a preparatory surface, a procedure according with Surrealist notions of the importance of chance effects. However, Ernst used a coordinate grid system to transfer his string configurations to canvas, thus subjecting these chance effects to conscious manipulation. The centralized, pyramidal grouping and the embracing gesture of the upper figure in The Kiss have lent themselves to comparison with Renaissance compositions, specifically the Madonna and Saint Anne by Leonardo da Vinci (Collection Musée National du Louvre, Paris).