“I love you more than words can wield the matter, dearer than eyesight, space and liberty” wrote Shakespeare.
Love is what makes us feeling alive, makes us hungry for passion, better people and more sensitive thinkers. Love is free expression, it is being ourselves and whoever we want to be, love is feeling home any place in the world, love is madness and pure creativity. Love is art.
Throughout history, love has been a constant source of inspiration for artists and has allowed the creation of breathtaking pieces of art, through which feelings seems to be transmitted to us.
On the day dedicated to lovers around the world, here it is my personal selection of best lovers in art and photography.
The Lovers II, Rene Magritte (1928)
The lovers II is an oil on canvas depicting two lovers caught in the moment of a kiss. What is immediately captured by our eye is the fact that the two figures are veiled. The image of a man with covered face is one of the most important themes in Magritte’s art. In this painting, this theme, makes me feel some kind of frustration, as if the kiss of lovers was incomplete because of this fabric barrier. Regards Magritte paintings, there is no correct interpretation. We can get an idea of why an artist chooses to cover the faces of the people he portrays, but there is no willingness on his part to let us know the true why.
“My painting is visible images which conceal nothing,” Magritte wrote, “they evoke mystery and, indeed, when one sees one of my pictures, one asks oneself this simple question, ‘What does it mean?’ It does not mean anything, because mystery means nothing either, it is unknowable.”
Ulay and Marina Abramović
Marina abramovic’ and Ulay are, perhaps, the best known performance artists in the world, those that are inserted in textbooks. They were partners in life, since 1976 until 1988, and partners in art: together they created truly passionate and powerful performances such as Rest Energy (1980), an intense four-minutes show that held everyone in suspense. An arrow’s tip pointed at Abramović’s heart and a fragile line between life and death. Marina and Ulay were one, so close together they looked like a single person. Nothing better than 1977’s Relation in time can explain this: they were braided one another for 17 hours. Recently, after a lot of years they spent separeted, Ulay reappeared in Marina’s performance of The Artist is Present at MoMA, where visitors were supposed to sit in front of her and simply stare. Ulay showed up. The moment, captured on camera, is touching.
The embrace, Egon Schiele (1917)
Two lovers are lying in a warm bed: bodies completing themselves in a sensual hug, long hair and perfume on the skin. It is 1917, hard times for soldiers in battlefield. Between these sheets the sound of gunfire seems so far … only the ‘smack’ of a sweet kiss and the light rustle of a caress. The horror of the war is out of this room.
Birthday, Marc Chagall (1915)
In Chagall’s Birthday (1915), we have a representation of the tender love between the painter and his beautiful wife Bella. They fell in love in 1909 and they immediately had the perception of seeing the world in the same way.
Bella wrote about when they first met: “When you did catch a glimpse of his eyes, they were as blue as if they’d fallen straight out of the sky. They were strange eyes … long, almond-shaped … and each seemed to sail along by itself, like a little boat.”
Their love was like a floating bubble that you can not stop observing while dancing gently in the air. And like bubbles, Chagall and Bella seem to flutter in the room, skillfully painted by the artist. The flight is a very common theme in Chagall’s representations.
Charles and Ray Eames
Charles Eames and Bernice Alexandra “Ray” Eames were an American married couple of designers who gave great contribution to modern furniture design and architecture. They first met in 1940 at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, where Ray was studying art and painting techniques, while Eames was directing the Industrial Design department. It was love at first sight and Charles proposed to her in a romantic as childish way: with a very funny letter he wrote for her.
Their work was incredibly innovative. They designed things of all kinds: from propaganda film to creative architectures, from funny seats to leg splints for soldiers. Charles and Ray continued designing art right up until Charles’ death in 1978.
Policemen kissing, Banksy (2004)
Kissing coppers is a spray-painted black and white murales appeared on a side of the Prince Albert pub in Trafalgar Street in 2004, and it is considered one of Banksy’s most famous works. Two policemen dressed in full uniforms are sharing a passionate kiss. It is not a common-love-painting. But even if is a piece of urban provocative art I really appreciated it.
Kiss V, Roy Lichtenstein (1964)
Roy Lichtenstein was of the most famous American pop artists. During the 1960s, with Andy Warhol any many others, he became a very prolific artist in the new art movement. Lichtenstein produced artworks that documented through the use of parody, the reality of that decade imbued with advertising. Recognizable is the great influence of the comic strips on his works.
The illustration depict a passionate kiss between a blonde woman with a sparkling red lipstick and a man with presumable raven hair.
Photography during war
In times of war, due to the lack of communication, the life of a couple in love was really tough. The men are forced to leave for cruel wars with the hope of being able to come back and see their loved ones again. Every ‘goodbye, I love you’ could be the last one and have to be special. These vintage photos are the perfect example of how powerful love can be: it goes beyond any distance, because the hope of coming back and re-embrace those you love, makes you find the strength to live another day.
“At that time, when you were writing ‘I love you’ you had to wait for the answer three weeks. And wait three weeks for the answer to ‘I love you’ was absolutely inhuman, for a twenty year old”.
Soldiers help a friend steal his last kiss before Korea war, September 6, 1950.
American soldier kissing his girl in Hyde Park, 1945