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[Image: Andreas Reichinger, VRVis, via Smithsonian]

Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss is one of the most popular works of art in the Western world. The original painting, created at the beginning of the 20th century, was executed as part of the Viennese Art Nouveau movement and has been well received from the moment of its creation. It takes as its subject an intimate moment between lovers in which a man holds the face of the woman he is kissing, each of their bodies nearly indistinguishable from the other’s. The moment is one of touching intimacy and resonates deeply with both lovers and dreamers.

the_kiss_-_gustav_klimt_-_google_cultural_instituteUnfortunately, until now, it was impossible for those with significant visual impairments to enjoy the scene portrayed in Klimt’s piece. Now, with a little help from a 3D printer, the Belvedere Museum is making it possible to reach out and explore the work through the sense of touch. What the work has lost in color it has gained in depth and accessibility, allowing people who cannot see the work to experience the voluptuous beauty of the piece.

Klimt’s work is such a riot of color and pattern that it’s sometimes hard for a sighted person to imagine there would be anything more to his work than a feast for the eyes. Seeing the 3D printed version, however, makes it clear just how much more there is to the detail of the work and being able to touch it makes it available for the first time to those who haven’t been dazzled by its surface. The closed eyes, the curved fingers, and the intertwined limbs emerge from the patterned garments and leave the witness with a delicious sense of the bliss experienced by these two lovers.

Creating 3D printed versions of flat works of art is an increasingly common pursuit in museums as efforts to include those with visual impairments are on the rise. Last year, the Prado Museum in Madrid launched an exhibit entitled “Touching the Prado” which featured 3D printed versions of a portion of the more famous works in its collection, such as those by Goya and El Greco. Their 3D printed works were then hand colored so that the colors could be portrayed as they were in the originals.

The 3D printed version of The Kiss is smaller than the original, but that’s a low price to pay for the provision of access to this jewel for those with sight limitations. It is currently on display at the Belvedere along with a collection of Klimt’s original paintings. Discuss in the 3D Printed Kiss forum at 3DPB.com.

[Source: Smithsonian]
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[Image: Andreas Reichinger, VRVis, via Smithsonian]

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